Sanchez Production Partners LLC 20-F 2009
Documents found in this filing:
As filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on January 26, 2009
Date of event requiring this shell company report................................[ ]
For the transition period from to
Commission file number 1-14872
Republic of South Africa
48 Ameshoff Street
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act.
American Depositary Shares, evidenced by
New York Stock Exchange
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act.
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act.
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer's classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.
239,071,892 Ordinary Shares
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
YES ý NO o
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
YES o NO ý
NoteChecking the box above will not relieve any registrant required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 from their obligations under those Sections.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
YES ý NO o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, or a non-accelerated filer. See definition of "accelerated filer and large accelerated filer" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
Large accelerated filer ý Accelerated filer o Non-accelerated filer o
Indicate by check mark which financial statements item the registrant has elected to follow.
ITEM 17 o ITEM 18 ý
Indicate by checkmark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
U.S. GAAP o International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board ý Other o
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
YES o NO ý
Unless otherwise specified or the context requires otherwise in this Annual Report on Form 20-F ("Annual Report"):
Except as otherwise indicated, in this Annual Report the amounts of "capacity" or "production capacity" of our facilities or machines are based upon our best estimates of production capacity at the date of filing of this Annual Report. Actual production by machines may differ from production capacity as a result of products produced, variations in product mix and other factors.
Certain market share information and other statements presented herein regarding our position relative to our competitors with respect to the manufacture or distribution of particular products are not based on published statistical data or information obtained from independent third parties, but reflect our best estimates. We have based these estimates upon information obtained from our customers, trade and business organizations and associations and other contacts in our industries.
Except as otherwise indicated in this Annual Report any reference to capacity, production capacity, market share information and data of a similar nature exclude the impact of the Acquired Business, which was acquired on December 31, 2008.
Unless otherwise provided in this Annual Report, trademarks identified by ® are registered trademarks of Sappi Limited or our subsidiaries.
Unless otherwise specified, all references in this Annual Report to a "fiscal year" and "year ended" of Sappi Limited refer to a twelve-month financial period. All references in this Annual Report to fiscal 2008, 2007 and fiscal 2006, or the years ended September 2008, 2007 or 2006 refer to Sappi Limited's twelve-month financial periods ended on September 28, 2008, September 30, 2007 and October 1, 2006, respectively; references in this Annual Report to fiscal 2009 refer to the period beginning September 29, 2008 and ending September 27, 2009. Our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report have been prepared in conformity with IFRS.
We publish our Group annual financial statements and all financial data presented in this Annual Report in US dollars on a nominal (non-inflation adjusted) basis. For information regarding the conversion to US dollars in fiscals 2008, 2007 and 2006, see note 2 to our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report.
In order to utilize the "Safe Harbor" provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the "Reform Act"), we are providing the following cautionary statement. Except for historical information contained herein, statements contained in this Annual Report may constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Reform Act.
The words "believe", "anticipate", "expect", "intend", "estimate", "plan", "assume", "positioned", "will", "may", "should", "risk" and other similar expressions, which are predictions of or indicate future events and future trends, which do not relate to historical matters, identify forward-looking statements. In addition, this document includes forward-looking statements relating to our potential exposure to various types of market risks, such as interest rate risk, foreign exchange rate risk and commodity price risk. You should not rely on forward-looking statements because they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which are in some cases beyond our control and may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from anticipated future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements (and from past results, performance or achievements). Certain factors that may cause such differences include but are not limited to:
These factors are fully discussed in this Annual Report. For further discussion on these factors, see "Item 3Key InformationSelected Financial Data", "Item 3Key InformationRisk Factors", "Item 4Information on the Company", "Item 5Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsFinancial Condition and Results of Operations", "Item 10Additional InformationExchange Controls" and note 30 to our Group annual financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are made as of the date of the filing of this Annual Report and are not intended to give any assurance as to future results. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any of these forward-looking statements, whether to reflect new information or future events or circumstances or otherwise.
The selected financial data set forth below has been derived from our Group annual financial statements and is qualified by reference to, and should be read in conjunction with, our Group annual financial statements and the notes thereto, which are included elsewhere in this Annual Report, and "Item 5Operating and Financial Review and Prospects".
We implemented International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS") as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board ("IASB") for the first time in fiscal 2006 and restated comparative amounts for fiscal 2005. Our selected financial data is as reported in accordance with IFRS for fiscals 2005 to 2008. Financial data for fiscal 2004 cannot be provided in accordance with IFRS without unreasonable effort and expense.
In addition to other information contained in this Annual Report, you should carefully consider the following factors before deciding to invest in our ordinary shares and American Depository Shares ("ADSs"). There may be additional risks that we do not currently know of or that we currently deem immaterial based on the information available to us. Our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially adversely affected by any of these risks, resulting in a decline in the trading price of our ordinary shares and ADSs.
The markets for our pulp and paper products are significantly affected by changes in industry capacity and output levels and by cyclical changes in the world economy. As a result of periodic supply / demand imbalances in the pulp and paper industry, these markets historically have been highly cyclical, with volatile pulp and paper prices. In addition, recent turmoil in the capital and credit markets has led to decreased availability of credit, which is having an adverse effect on the world economy and consequently has already affected, and may continue to adversely affect the markets for our products. The timing and magnitude of price increases or decreases in the pulp and paper market have generally varied by region and by type of pulp and paper.
Despite a relatively high level of pulp integration on a Group-wide basis, a significant increase in the prices for pulp or pulpwood could adversely affect our non-integrated and partially integrated operations if they are unable to raise paper prices sufficiently to offset the effects of increased costs. Other input cost increases including energy and chemicals may affect our operations if we are unable to raise paper prices sufficiently.
The majority of our fine paper sales consist of sales to merchants. However, the pricing of products for merchant sales can generally be changed between 30 to 90 days' advance notice to the merchant. Sales to converters may be subject to longer notice periods for price changes. Such notice periods generally would not exceed 6 to 12 months. In southern Africa, we have entered into longer-term fixed-price agreements of between 6 to 12 months duration for primarily packaging paper and newsprint sales with domestic customers. Such agreements accounted for approximately 5% of consolidated sales during fiscal 2008.
Most of our chemical cellulose sales contracts are multi-year contracts. However, the pricing is generally based on a formula linked to the NBSK price and reset on a quarterly basis.
As a result of the short-term duration of paper and chemical cellulose pricing arrangements, we are subject to cyclical decreases in market prices for these products. A downturn in paper or chemical cellulose prices could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
For further information, see "Item 4Information on the CompanyThe Pulp and Paper Industry".
Worldwide economic conditions have recently experienced a significant downturn due to credit conditions impacted by the subprime mortgage crisis and other factors, including slower economic activity, inflation and deflation concerns, reduced corporate profits, reduced or canceled capital spending, adverse business conditions and liquidity concerns, resulting in significant recessionary pressures and lower business and consumer confidence. Global demand for coated fine paper started to decline in the second half of fiscal 2008 and into fiscal 2009, and pulp demand and pulp prices decreased in the latter part of fiscal 2008 and into fiscal 2009. We may continue to experience a slowing in demand in all our major markets and downward pressure on pricing in many markets, which could adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition, including difficulties in maintaining previous operating performance. In anticipation of slowing demand, we took production down time in December 2008 and we will consider taking further down time in fiscal 2009 to balance supply and demand. While the full impact of the downturn may not occur until 2009 or beyond, we cannot predict the timing or the duration of this or any other downturn in the economy.
We compete against a large number of pulp and paper producers located around the world. A recent trend towards consolidation in the pulp and paper industry has created larger, more focused pulp and paper companies. Some of these companies benefit from greater financial resources or operate mills that are lower cost producers of pulp and paper products than our mills. We cannot assure you that each of our mills will be competitive. Furthermore, we cannot assure you that we will be able to take advantage of consolidation opportunities which may arise, or that any failure to exploit opportunities for growth would not make us less competitive. Increased competition, including a decrease in import duties in accordance with the terms of free trade agreements, could cause us to lose market share, increase expenditures or reduce pricing, any of which could have a material adverse effect on the results of our operations. In addition, competition may result in our being unable to increase selling prices of our products sufficiently or in time to offset the effects of increased costs without losing market share.
Our operations are subject to a wide range of environmental requirements in the various jurisdictions in which we operate. Although we strive to ensure that our facilities comply with all applicable environmental laws, we have in the past been and may in the future be subject to governmental enforcement action for failure to comply with environmental requirements. We expect to continue to incur significant expenditures and may face operational constraints to maintain compliance with applicable environmental laws, to upgrade equipment at our mills and to meet new regulatory requirements, including those in the United States, South Africa and Europe. Impacts from historical operations, including the land disposal of waste materials, may require further investigation and cleanup. In addition, we could become subject to environmental liabilities resulting from personal injury, property damage or natural resources damage. Expenditures to comply with future environmental requirements and the cost related to any potential environmental liabilities and claims could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
For further information, see "Item 4Information on the CompanyEnvironmental and Safety Matters".
Although the insurance market has been stable for the last three to four years, it remains cyclical and catastrophic events can change the state of the insurance market, leading to sudden and unexpected increases in premiums and deductibles and unavailability of coverage due to reasons totally unconnected with our business. In addition, recent turmoil and volatility in the global financial markets may adversely affect the insurance market. This may result in some of the insurers in our insurance portfolio failing and being unable to pay their share of claims.
Although we have successfully negotiated the renewal of our 2009 insurance cover at rates similar to those of 2008 and self-insured deductibles for any one property damage occurrence have remained at $25 million, with an unchanged aggregate limit of $40 million, we are unable to predict whether past or future events will result in less favorable terms. For property damage and business interruption, there generally does not seem to be cost effective cover available to full value; however, we believe that the loss limit cover of $1 billion should be adequate for what we have determined as the reasonably foreseeable loss for any single claim.
While we believe our insurance programs provide adequate coverage for reasonably foreseeable losses, we continue working on improved risk management to lower the risk of incurring losses from uncontrolled incidents. We are unable to assure you that actual losses will not exceed our insurance coverage or that such excess will not be material.
We believe that new technologies or novel processes may emerge and that existing technologies may be further developed in the fields in which we operate. These technologies or processes could have an impact on
production methods or on product quality in these fields. Unexpected rapid changes in employed technologies or the development of novel processes that affect our operations and product range could render the technologies we utilize or the products we produce obsolete or less competitive in the future. Difficulties in assessing new technologies may impede us from implementing them and competitive pressures may force us to implement these new technologies at a substantial cost. Any such development could materially and adversely impact our revenues or net profits or both.
Consumer preferences may change as a result of the availability of alternative products or of services such as electronic media or the internet, which could negatively impact consumption of our products.
Our level of indebtedness and the terms of our indebtedness could negatively impact our business and liquidity. As of September 2008, our interest bearing debt (long-term and short-term interest bearing debt plus overdraft, less cash on hand) was US$ 2,405 million. While reduction of our indebtedness is one of our priorities, opportunities to grow within our businesses will continue to be evaluated, and the financing of any future acquisition or capital investment may include the incurrence of additional indebtedness.
The level of our debt has important consequences, including:
During fiscal 2009, we have approximately US$ 827 million outstanding under renewable facilities that mature. We expect to be able to continue to refinance these rolling facilities under our existing longer-term funding arrangements and bilateral banking facilities. Other than rolling facilities, the first significant scheduled debt repayment is a € 400 million facility maturing in December 2010. We will seek to refinance such indebtedness when it becomes due through the issuance of new debt in the global capital markets.
Our ability to refinance our debt, incur additional debt, the terms of our existing and additional debt and our liquidity could be affected by a number of adverse developments. In the third quarter of fiscal 2008, the global debt markets were subject to significant pressure triggered by the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market in the U.S. This liquidity crunch continued through and worsened in calendar 2008, leading to unprecedented volatility in the financial markets, an acute contraction in the availability of credit, including in interbank lending, and the failure of a number of leading financial institutions. Changes in investment markets, including changes in interest rates, exchange rates and returns from equity, property and other investments, have resulted in worsening general economic conditions. As a result, certain government bodies and central banks worldwide have undertaken unprecedented intervention programs, the effects of which remain uncertain. In addition, since 2006 the Group's credit ratings have been downgraded to sub-investment grade by Standard & Poor's (S&P) (currently BB / Stable) and Moody's (currently Ba2 / Stable). These adverse developments in the credit markets and in our credit rating, as well as other future adverse developments, such as further deterioration in the financial markets and a worsening of general economic conditions, may negatively impact our ability to issue additional debt as well as the amount and terms of the debt we are able to issue. Our liquidity will be adversely affected if we must repay all or a portion of our maturing debt from available cash or through use of our existing liquidity facilities. In addition, our results of operations will be
adversely impacted to the extent the terms of the debt we are able to issue are less favorable than the terms of the debt being refinanced. It is also possible that we will need to agree to covenants that place additional restrictions on our business.
We are subject to South African exchange controls, which may restrict the transfer of funds directly or indirectly between our subsidiaries or between the parent company and our subsidiaries and can restrict activities of our subsidiaries. We may also incur tax costs in connection with these transfers of funds. These exchange controls have affected the geographic distribution of our debt. As a result, acquisitions in the United States and Europe were financed with indebtedness incurred by companies in those regions. As a consequence, our ability or the ability of any of our subsidiaries to make scheduled payments on its debt will depend on its financial and operating performance, which will depend on various factors beyond our control, such as prevailing economic and competitive conditions. If we or any of our subsidiaries are unable to achieve operating results or otherwise obtain access to funds sufficient to enable us to meet our debt service obligations, we could face substantial liquidity problems. As a result, we might need to delay investments or dispose of material assets or operations. The timing of and the proceeds to be realized from any such disposition would depend upon circumstances at the time.
The current global liquidity and credit crises are having a significant negative impact on businesses around the world; the impact of these crises on our major customers cannot be predicted and may be quite severe. A disruption in the ability of our significant customers to access sources of liquidity could cause serious disruptions or an overall deterioration of their businesses which could lead to a significant reduction in their future orders of our products and the inability or failure on their part to meet their payment obligations to us, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial position.
Our ability to fund our working capital, capital expenditure and research and development requirements, to engage in future acquisitions, to make payments on our debt, to fund post-retirement benefit programs and to pay dividends will depend upon our future operating performance and our ability to generate sufficient cash. Our principal sources of liquidity are cash generated from operations and availability under our credit facilities and other debt arrangements. Our ability to generate cash depends, to some extent, on general economic, financial, competitive, market, regulatory and other factors, many of which are beyond our control. Our cash flow from operations may be adversely impacted by the downturn in worldwide economic conditions, which has resulted in a decline in global demand for our products and a softening of prices. The availability of debt financing has also been negatively impacted by the global credit crisis.
Our business may not generate sufficient cash flow from operations and additional debt and equity financing may not be available to us in a sufficient amount to enable us to meet our liquidity needs. If our future cash flows from operations and other capital resources are insufficient to fund our liquidity needs, we may be required to obtain additional debt or equity financing, refinance our indebtedness, reduce or delay our capital expenditures and research and development or to decrease the amount of the annual dividend. We may not be able to accomplish these alternatives on a timely basis or our satisfactory terms. The failure to do so could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Exchange rate fluctuations have in the past, and may in the future, affect the competitiveness of our products in relation to the products of pulp and paper companies based in other countries.
Fluctuations in the exchange rate between currencies, particularly the Rand and euro, in relation to the US dollar have in the past significantly affected and could in the future significantly affect our earnings.
Since the adoption of the euro by the European Union on January 1, 1999 (when the euro was trading at approximately $1.18 per euro), it has fluctuated against the US dollar, reaching a low of approximately $0.83 per euro in October 2000 before trading at approximately $1.46, $1.42, $1.27 and $1.20 per euro at the end of fiscal 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005, respectively, and rising to a high of $1.60 per euro in April 2008. On January 12, 2009, it was trading at approximately $1.34 per euro. A significant weakening of the US dollar in comparison to the euro could redirect a significant amount of imports from Europe.
In recent years, the value of the Rand against the US dollar has fluctuated considerably. It has moved against the US dollar from a low of approximately R13.90 per US dollar in December 2001 to approximately R8.07, R6.87, R7.77 and R6.37 per US dollar at the end of fiscal 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005, respectively. More recently, the Rand has been declining against US dollar and was trading at approximately R10.14 per US dollar on January 12, 2009.
For further information, see notes 2 and 30 to our Group Annual Financial Statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report and "Item 5Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsCurrency Fluctuations".
We own manufacturing operations in five countries in Europe, four states in the United States, South Africa and Swaziland, and have an investment in a joint venture in China. These risks arise from being subject to various economic, fiscal, monetary, regulatory, operational and political factors that affect companies generally and which may change as economic, social or political circumstances change. See "Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsSouth African Economic and Political Environment" and "South African Exchange Controls".
Our southern African operations have in recent years accounted for a disproportionate percentage of our operating profits. In fiscal 2008 our sales originating from Europe were US$ 2,720 million, from North America US$ 1,664 million and from southern Africa US$ 1,479 million; our operating assets were located US$ 2,226 million in Europe, US$ 1,285 million in North America and US$ 2,139 million in southern Africa (excluding Corporate and other). However, in fiscal 2008 our operating profits and losses were a loss of US$ 64 million in Europe, a profit of US$ 92 million in North America and a profit of US$ 279 million in southern Africa (excluding Corporate and other). Adverse developments in the economic, fiscal, monetary, regulatory or political circumstances in southern Africa could negatively affect our operations.
There is a serious problem with HIV / AIDS infection among our southern African workforce, as there is in southern Africa generally. The HIV / AIDS infection rate of our southern African workforce is expected to increase over the next decade. The costs and lost workers' time associated with HIV / AIDS may adversely affect our southern African operations.
For further information, see "Item 5Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsSouth African Economic and Political Environment".
The selling prices of the majority of the products manufactured and the purchase prices of many of the raw materials we use generally fluctuate in correlation with global commodity cycles. In addition, we have been experiencing increasing costs of a number of raw materials due to global trends beyond our control. The global warming and carbon footprint imperatives are causing the increased use of sustainable, non-fossil fuel, sources for electricity generation. Electricity generation companies are competing for the same raw material, namely wood and wood chips, in the same markets as us, driving prices upwards, especially during winter in the Northern hemisphere. In addition, the price of crude oil recently reached historically high levels. Although oil prices have since decreased, they are could return to high levels in the foreseeable future because of, among other things, political instability in the oil producing regions of the world. This impacts the oil-based commodities required by our business in the areas of energy (including electricity), transport and chemicals.
As occurred during the 2006, 2007 and 2008 fiscal years, a major potential consequence of the increase in the price of input commodities is our inability to counter this effect through increased selling prices. This results in reduced operating profit, and has a negative impact on business planning.
While we are in the process of implementing steps to reduce our cost of commodity inputs, other than maintaining a high level of pulp integration, the hedging techniques we apply on our raw materials and products are on a small scale and short term in nature. Moreover, in the event of significant increases in the prices of pulp, our non-integrated and partially integrated operations could be adversely affected if they are unable to raise paper prices by amounts sufficient to maintain margins.
We require substantial amounts of oil based chemicals, fuels and other resources for our production activities and transport of our timber products. We rely partly upon third parties for our supply of the energy resources consumed in our operations. The prices for and availability of energy resources may be subject to change or curtailment, respectively, due to, among other things, new laws or regulations, imposition of new taxes or tariffs, interruptions in production by suppliers, worldwide price levels and market conditions. The prices of various sources of energy may increase significantly from current levels. An increase in energy prices could materially adversely affect our results of operations, plantation valuation and financial condition.
We sell a significant portion of our products to several major customers, including PaperlinX, Igepa, xpedx and Antalis. For Sappi Fine Paper products, PaperlinX and Igepa represented individually more than 10% of our total sales during both fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2007. Any adverse development affecting our principal customers or our relationships with our principal customers could have an adverse effect on our business and results of operations. See "Item 4Information on the CompanySappi Fine PaperMarketing and DistributionCustomers" and "Item 4Information on the CompanySappi Forest ProductsMarketing and DistributionCustomers".
We are facing an aging demographic work profile among our management due to the mature nature of our industry and the rural and often remote location of our mills, together with generally long tenure of employees at the mills. As a result, we are likely to experience groups of employees leaving the company within a relatively short space of time of one another and may have difficulty attracting qualified replacements. The potential risks we face are a loss of institutional memory, skills, experience and management capabilities. We may be unable to attract and retain sufficient qualified replacements when and where necessary to avoid an adverse impact on our business.
The general outlook for the forthcoming financial years is that bond and equity markets could move in very uncertain and unusual ways, which in turn could result in significant swings in yields on corporate bonds and government bonds as well as continued volatile within the equity markets. The risk exists that equity and property markets will not recover to the level of recent highs for many years as the global economic climate could further worsen. Consequently it is very difficult for us to predict which key factors, and how the interaction of these key factors, will change the post employment benefit funds' balance sheet funding status. As a result of the recent and continued risk of negative movements in the global equity and bond markets the funded status of our post employment benefit arrangements might have worsened subsequent to the fiscal year end.
Existing and potential changes in statutory minimum funding requirements may also affect the amount and timing of funding to be paid by us. Most funding requirements consider yields on assets such as government bonds or interbank interest rate swap curves, depending on the basis. If these yields remain at the current low
level experienced in the latter part of calendar 2008, we might need to pay additional contributions to meet minimum funding targets.
The southern African landscape is prone to, and ecologically adapted to, frequent fires. The risk of uncontrolled fires entering and burning significant areas of plantation is high, but under normal weather conditions this risk is managed through comprehensive fire prevention and protection plans. In 2007 and 2008, southern Africa experienced a number of abnormal weather events (hot, dry conditions fanned by extremely strong winds), which resulted in disastrous plantation fires across vast areas of eastern South Africa and Swaziland affecting 14,000 hectares and 26,000 hectares, respectively, of our plantations. There is some cause for concern that these abnormal weather conditions may be occurring more frequently as a result of the potential impact of climate change. In addition, because the transformation of land ownership and management in southern Africa has been moving ownership and management of plantations to independent growers, we have less ability to directly manage fire risk, as well as risks of other catastrophic events, such as pathogen and pest infestations. As a consequence, the risk of plantation fires or other catastrophic events remains high and may be increasing. Continued or increased losses of our wood source could jeopardize our ability to supply our mills with timber from the region.
The global warming and carbon footprint imperatives are causing the increased use of sustainable, non-fossil fuel, sources for electricity generation. Electricity generation companies are competing for the same raw material, namely wood and wood chips, in the same markets as us, driving prices upwards, especially during winter in the Northern hemisphere.
The increased emphasis on water footprint in Southern Africa is causing increased focus on the sustainable use of water by our plants, on ensuring the quality of water released back into the water systems and on the control of effluent.
Climate change is also causing the spread of disease and pestilence into our plantations and fiber sources, way beyond their traditional geographic spreads.
The risks associated with the Acquisition and the integration of the Acquired Business could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. We
may not be able to successfully integrate the Acquired Business into our business.
We may experience unforeseen operating difficulties as we integrate the Acquired Business into our existing operations. These difficulties may disrupt our operations and require significant management attention and financial resources that would otherwise be available for day-to-day operations or the ongoing development or expansion of existing operations. The Acquisition involves risks, including:
If we are unable to successfully meet the challenges associated with the Acquisition, this could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our estimates regarding the earnings, operating cash flow, capital expenditures and liabilities of the Acquired Business are based on information currently available to us and may prove to be incorrect. Since we were not involved in the management of the Acquired Business until the Acquisition closed on December 31, 2008, our assessment of the risks and opportunities may not be accurate. In addition, we may not realize any anticipated benefits of the Acquisition and may not be successful in integrating the Acquired Business into our existing business.
Achieving the anticipated benefits of the Acquisition will depend in part upon whether we integrate the Acquired Business in an efficient and effective manner. We may not be able to accomplish this integration process smoothly or successfully.
An inability to realize the full extent of the anticipated benefits of the Acquisition, as well as any delays encountered in the integration process, could have an adverse effect upon our business, results of operations and financial condition.
The principal trading market for our ordinary shares is on the exchange operated by the JSE Limited ("JSE") (formerly known as the Johannesburg Stock Exchange). Historically, trading volumes and liquidity of shares listed on the JSE have been low in comparison with other major international markets. In fiscal 2008, 241 million of our ordinary shares were traded on the JSE and 51 million ADSs were traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The relatively low liquidity of shares traded on JSE Limited could affect your ability to sell ordinary shares. See "Significant shareholders may be able to influence the affairs of our Company", "Item 7Major Shareholders and Related Party TransactionsMajor Shareholders", "Item 9The Offer and ListingOffer and Listing Details" and "Item 9The Offer and ListingMarket Information".
Although our investigation of beneficial ownership of our shares identified only two beneficial owners of more than 5% of our ordinary shares, holding approximately 17.7%, as shown in our shareholders' register at November 30, 2008, the five largest shareholders of record, four of which are nominees that hold shares for a multitude of beneficial owners, owned approximately 96% of our ordinary shares as of that date. See "Item 7Major Shareholders and Related Party TransactionsMajor Shareholders".
In October 2008, the South African Government tabled a bill containing proposed legislation to replace Secondary Tax on Companies with a 10% withholding tax on dividends and other distributions payable to shareholders for implementation in late 2009, following amendments to some of the existing double tax treaties. This is the second phase in a process that started in October 2007. Although this may reduce the tax payable by our South African operations, thereby increasing distributable earnings, the withholding tax will generally reduce the amount of dividends or other distributions received by our shareholders.
Sappi Limited is a public company incorporated in the Republic of South Africa. Our principal executive offices are located at 48 Ameshoff Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, 2001, Republic of South Africa and our telephone number is +27-11-407-8111. We currently have our primary listing on the JSE Limited (formerly the Johannesburg Stock Exchange) and have secondary listings on the New York and London Stock Exchanges.
Sappi Limited was founded and incorporated in 1936 in South Africa and is a corporation organized under the Companies Act 61 of 1973 of the Republic of South Africa.
Until 1990, we primarily expanded our operations within southern Africa. Since 1990, we have grown through acquisitions outside of southern Africa. In the mid 1990's we acquired S.D. Warren Company, a market leader in the United States in coated fine paper and a major producer of other speciality paper products. It now conducts business as Sappi Fine Paper North America. In the late 1990's we acquired KNP Leykam, a leading European producer of coated fine paper. KNP Leykam now conducts business as Sappi Fine Paper Europe. In 2002 we acquired Potlatch Corporation's coated fine paper business and have integrated it in Sappi Fine Paper North America.
In 2004 we acquired 34% of Jiangxi Chenming Paper Company, a joint venture which commissioned in mid-2005 a coated mechanical paper machine, mechanical pulp mill and de-inked pulp mill in China.
In August 2006, we announced the expansion of the existing capacity at Sappi Saiccor in South Africa, where Chemical Cellulose products are produced. The capacity of the mill was increased from approximately 600,000 metric tonnes per annum to 800,000 metric tones per annum. Production using the increased capacity commenced in September 2008. The plant is expected to be fully operational by mid February 2009.
In April 2006, Sappi announced a black economic empowerment transaction involving the sale of identified forestry land to a South African empowerment partner. We have received the final approval from the Minister of Land Affairs with regard to our Black Economic Empowerment transaction with Lereko Investments. In respect of this transaction, we recognized an immaterial charge to the income statement during fiscal 2008.
On December 31, 2008, we acquired the coated graphic paper business of M-real Corporation, including the brands, know-how, intellectual property, order books, and four mills. We also entered into agreements to sell the coated paper output of two mills, which will continue to be owned and operated by M-real Corporation, and contracts to purchase pulp, wood and energy from M-real Corporation and its associates. For information on this acquisition, see "Business OverviewThe Acquisition of M-real Corporation's Coated Graphic Paper Business".
After the close of fiscal 2008 Sappi Fine Paper Europe closed our Blackburn Mill in the United Kingdom and ceased production from PM 5 at our Maastricht mill in the Netherlands. Profitable products produced at these mills have been moved to our other facilities in Europe.
For information on our principal investments and capital expenditures, see the description of our business in "Business Overview" and "Item 5Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsLiquidity and Capital Resources".
Sappi is a global paper and pulp group. We are a leading producer of coated fine paper widely used in books, brochures, magazines, catalogues and many other print applications. We are also the world's largest producer of chemical cellulose, used primarily in the manufacture of viscose fiber, acetated tow, and consumer and pharmaceutical products. In addition, we produce newsprint, uncoated graphic and business papers, premium quality packaging papers, a range of coated speciality papers and a range of paper grade pulp.
Our goal is to be the most profitable company in the paper, pulp and chemical cellulose sectors. Our key measures will be Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) and as a minimum to beat our cost of capital. We will also prioritize cash generation and improving our balance sheet structure.
We aim to build on our leading position in the coated fine paper market and to explore opportunities across the broad spectrum of coated paper. We plan to grow our chemical cellulose business and we are expanding our low cost fiber base in southern Africa. We will invest in energy reduction and self sufficiency projects and in extracting chemical derived from renewable wood resources. Our Southern African portfolio includes packaging paper, printing and writing paper and tissue paper.
Increases in new production capacity in the past have resulted in significant overcapacity in the pulp and paper industry, particularly in the European fine paper market. This overcapacity has contributed to downward pressure on product prices, despite heightened demand levels and high production operating rates. We believe that a combination of industry consolidation and capacity reductions should encourage a rationalization of the European pulp and paper industry similar to recent developments in the North American market, which should contribute to improved profitability.
A number of producers, including our European business, have announced capacity reductions in Europe amounting to approximately 1.2 million tonnes of coated woodfree paper which we expect to be completed before mid-2009 and representing approximately 11% of the total European capacity for fine paper. We are actively participating in this process through the closure of our Blackburn mill (which has recently stopped production) and cessation of production from PM 5 at our Maastricht mill.
We own and operate what we believe are some of the lowest cost and most efficient assets in the coated fine paper sector in the world. A significant portion of our capital expenditures are designed to increase production capacity at efficient facilities, reduce costs and improve product quality. We continually evaluate the performance of our assets by maintaining a focus on profitability and we actively manage our asset base, including by divesting or closing non-performing assets and by pursuing an investment policy that is focused on high-return projects.
As part of this strategy, we have closed 16 paper machines since 1995, including the closure of our Blackburn mill (which has recently stopped production) and ceased production from PM 5 at our Maastricht mill, shifting production volumes to more efficient facilities and optimizing capacity utilization. We believe that the expected rationalization of manufacturing and synergies resulting from the integration of the Acquired Business from M-real Corporation will further enhance the efficiency of our operations.
Including the Acquired Business, our Group is approximately 92% integrated on a net basis in terms of pulp usage, meaning that, while some of our facilities are market buyers of pulp and others market sellers, in the aggregate we produce almost as much pulp as we use, making us less dependent on market supplies. In the chemical cellulose segment we have recently completed an expansion project that has significantly increased production capacity at Sappi Saiccor, the world's largest single producer of chemical cellulose. We also intend to expand our pulpwood operations and further increase our pulp and chemical cellulose capacity. We expect to maintain a high level of economic pulp integration, which helps reduce the impact of pulp price volatility on our earnings. Two of the mills we acquired from M-real Corporation, Kirkniemi and Stockstadt, are also integrated pulp mills.
We have achieved leading positions in our core products, in particular in the coated woodfree paper segment, by building a portfolio of premium international operating brands, and we are currently the largest producer of coated woodfree paper in the world (as measured by capacity). Our leading market positions place us in an advantageous position to benefit from the expected future growth of the coated woodfree paper segment, historically one of the fastest growing segments of the global paper industry. The Acquisition of the coated graphic paper business from M-real Corporation, will strengthen our position in the coated woodfree market and significantly increase our presence in the coated magazine paper market.
We believe that our existing 18 pulp and paper mills across Europe, North America and southern Africa enable us to take greater advantage of opportunities where markets are strong and reduce risk where they are weak. Our geographic diversity assists us in offsetting the effects of volatile movements of major currencies as we can benefit from imbalances in demand and relative strengths of currencies by shifting production between regions. We believe that these benefits of our geographic diversity will be increased by our expansion into Finland and Switzerland and our increased presence in Germany as a result of the Acquisition of the coated graphic paper business from M-real Corporation.
One of our main strategic objectives is the further integration of our international marketing and distribution efforts, with an emphasis on meeting our customers' requirements and expectations. We intend to enhance client relationships by continually improving service and reliability, and we will continue to focus on increasing service and efficiency, including through business-to-business interaction. We expect to continue to maintain a focus on innovation, transferring knowledge throughout our Group and implementing best-practice policies. We believe that our three research and development centers in Europe, North America and South Africa, enhance our ability to design and improve value-added products and services and to bring them to market with increased efficiency.
On December 31, 2008, we acquired four graphic paper mills: the Kirkniemi mill and the Kangas mill in Finland, the Stockstadt mill in Germany and the Biberist mill in Switzerland; and other specified assets; as well as all of the know-how, brands, order books, customer lists, intellectual property and goodwill of the coated graphic paper business of M-Real Corporation. The four acquired mills have now become part of Sappi Fine paper Europe. The Acquired Business has a total annual production capacity of approximately 1.9 million tonnes of graphic paper and in 2007 generated total sales of € 1.3 billion.
As part of the Acquisition, we entered into long term supply agreements under which M-Real Corporation and its parent company will supply wood, energy and pulp to us. In addition, we entered into transitional marketing agreements under which M-Real Corporation will produce products at certain graphic paper machines at the Husum mill (Sweden) and the Äänekoski mill (Finland) and we will market and distribute those products. At the time the Acquisition was announced, M-Real Corporation announced plans to discontinue production of coated woodfree paper at its Hallein and Gohrsmühle mills, resulting in a capacity reduction of about 600,000 tones of coated woodfree paper in Europe.
The total consideration for the Acquisition was € 750 million and was subject to a deduction based on the amount of net debt of the Acquired Business at completion and an adjustment for the difference between the target working capital and the actual working capital at completion. The Acquisition consideration represents a price of approximately € 400 per tonne of annual paper production capacity acquired.
We funded the consideration for the Acquisition as follows:
The Acquired Business was previously operated by M-Real Corporation as part of its broader graphic paper business. We acquired the Acquired Business in the form of specific assets and as the shares of certain of M-Real Corporation's subsidiaries that own relevant assets.
We acquired, either by acquiring the relevant assets or shares of a holding company, the following four mills as part of the Acquired Business.
Kirkniemi. We acquired the assets comprising Kirkniemi mill, located 70 kilometers west of Helsinki, Finland. The mill was built in 1966 and has an annual production capacity of approximately 740,000 tonnes of paper and 338,000 tonnes of mechanical pulp. The mill has approximately 639 employees. The products of the Kirkniemi mill are:
Kangas. We acquired the assets comprising Kangas mill except its PM 2. The mill is located 270 kilometers north of Helsinki in Jyväskylä, Finland. The mill was established in 1872 and has an annual production capacity of approximately 210,000 tonnes of paper after the closure of a paper machine in 2008. The mill has approximately 225 employees and produces Galerie Silk, a coated magazine paper with a silk finish.
Stockstadt. We acquired the shares of M-Real Stockstadt GmbH, which holds Stockstadt mill located in Stockstadt, Germany. The mill was established in 1898 and has an annual production capacity of approximately 420,000 tonnes of paper and 160,000 tonnes of pulp. The mill has approximately 720 employees. Its products are:
Biberist. We acquired the shares of M-Real Biberist, which holds Biberist mill, located in Biberist, Switzerland. The mill was established in 1862 and has an annual production capacity of approximately 505,000 tonnes. The mill has approximately 538 employees and produces woodfree coated fine paper for the graphic arts industry and offset printing, as well as woodfree uncoated pre-printed paper for office, pre-printed and offset applications. The products of the Biberist mill are:
We acquired the paper coating machines from M-Real Corporation as part of the Acquisition. We expect to complete the reallocation of products by the end of June 2009.
Under distribution agreements entered into as part of the Acquisition, M-Real Corporation granted us the exclusive right to market and sell the products of certain graphic paper machines at M-Real Corporation's Husum mill and Äänekoski mill for a period of five years, with a minimum duration of 27 months or, if earlier, until M-Real Corporation sells the relevant mill. We will be entitled to a commission on sales while the agreements are in effect. The graphic paper machines subject to the distribution agreements are described below.
Husum PM 8. We entered into a distribution agreement in respect of PM 8 at M-Real Corporation's Husum mill in Sweden. PM 8 is the only asset producing coated graphic paper at Husum mill and has an annual production capacity of 285,000 tonnes of Galerie Fine paper, a coated fine paper with high brightness, smoothness and improved opacity.
Äänekoski PM 2. We entered into a distribution agreement in respect of PM 2 at M-Real Corporation's Äänekoski mill in Finland. Äänekoski's PM 2 produces triple blade coated wood-free art paper on one paper machine that is marketed under the brand name Galerie Art. The machine has an annual production capacity of 200,000 tonnes.
In addition to the Acquisition Agreement, we entered into various ancillary agreements with M-Real Corporation and its parent company as part of the Acquisition. Under a wood supply agreement M-Real Corporation's parent company will supply up to 704,000 cubic meters of wood, substantially all of which will be sourced in Southern Finland, to the Kirkniemi mill annually for a minimum period of 12 years at market rates. This new wood supply agreement comes in addition to existing arrangements for the Stockstadt mill under which a subsidiary of M-Real Corporation's parent company will continue to supply wood. Pursuant to two pulp supply agreements, M-Real Corporation and its parent company will supply up to 667,000 tonnes of pulp per year for minimum periods of between 3 and 8 years to the mills acquired in the Acquisition. We also entered into two electricity supply agreements pursuant to which M-Real Corporation will supply part of the electricity for Kirkniemi and Kangas mills for up to 5 years.
We also acquired from M-Real Corporation the business assets relating to the coated graphic paper business of the Gohrsmühle and Hallein mills, from which we acquired coaters, and the Husum and Äänekoski mills, for which we entered into marketing and distribution agreements. These business assets include goodwill, intellectual property, brands, know-how, business contracts, order books and customer lists in respect of these mills.
We did not acquire these additional assets to the extent that they relate to M-Real Corporation's South African coated graphic paper business. However, M-Real Corporation granted us an option to acquire the business assets relating to its South African coated graphic paper for an agreed sum. We also granted M-Real Corporation an option requiring us to acquire these business assets relating to South Africa for the same price when the option is exercised. Either option may be exercised any time after January 31, 2009.
Approximately 2,100 employees associated with the Acquired Business have transferred to our Group. M-Real Corporation is liable for any costs of terminating any other employees.
The paper industry is generally divided into the printing and writing paper segment, consisting of newsprint, groundwood paper and fine paper, and the packaging segment, consisting of containerboard, boxboard and sackkraft.
Long-term, paper and board consumption has grown in line with overall economic growth, but consumption patterns are also influenced by short-term economic developments. Pricing largely is influenced by the supply / demand balance for individual products, which is partially dependent on capacity and inventory levels in the industry. The ability to adapt capacity changes in response to shorter-term fluctuations in demand is limited, as large amounts of capital are required for the construction or upgrade of production facilities and as lead times are long between the planning and completion of new facilities. Industry-wide over-investment in new production capacity has in the past led to situations of significant oversupply, which have caused product prices to decrease. This has been exacerbated by inventory speculation, as purchasers have sought to benefit from the price trend. As a result, financial performance has deteriorated during periods of significant oversupply and improved when demand has increased to levels that support the implementation of price increases.
In recent years, the industry has experienced significant strategic changes. The high costs associated with building new paper mills and establishing and growing market share have led to companies focusing on acquisition, rather than construction, of new capacity. In China, however, rapid economic growth and government incentives have spurred massive investment in the pulp and paper industry. In recent years, China's paper and board as well as fine paper capacity increased considerably allowing China to change from a net importer to a net exporter of coated fine paper. Another result of this trend has been a greater concentration of production capacity among fewer producers. Many leading industry producers now focus on fewer core grades and have divested non-core assets that are not part of the industry or which have been considered not consistent with long-term strategies. The regional and global market shares of leading producers have increased significantly over the past decade.
The following table shows a breakdown and description of the major product categories we participate in, the products in these categories and the typical uses for such products. We have produced and sold each of these products in each of our last three fiscal years.
The following tables set forth selected pulp and paper prices in certain markets for the periods presented.
Our fine paper activities are divided into coated and uncoated fine paper and speciality paper grades.
Coated Fine Paper. Major end uses of coated fine paper include high-end magazines, catalogues, brochures, annual reports and commercial printing. Coated fine paper is made from chemical pulp and is coated on one or both sides for use where high reprographic quality is required. The majority of coated fine paper production is coated on two sides, permitting quality printing on both sides of the paper. Paper that is coated on one side is used in special applications such as consumer product and mailing label applications.
Our North American coated fine paper sales volume for fiscal 2007 was 31% in sheet form and 69% in reel form, and for fiscal 2008 was 24% in sheet form and 76% in reel form. The sheet volume is largely influenced by brochure and general commercial printing activities and printers using mainly sheet-fed offset lithographic printing processes, which are not particularly seasonal, and corporate annual reports, which result in heaviest demand during the first calendar quarter. Reels volume is heavily influenced by catalogue activity, which is strongest in the third and fourth calendar quarters, text book activity, which is strongest in the second and third calendar quarters, and publication printer activity, which is not particularly seasonal. These printers principally use heatset web offset printing processes.
Our European coated fine paper sales volume for fiscal 2007 and 2008 year, was 61% in sheet form and 39% in reel form. Due to the diversity in languages in the European market, the print editions of brochure and general commercial printing activities are considerably smaller than in the US market. This translates into a significantly higher volume in sheets. The seasonal patterns of both sheets and reels are mostly influenced by the catalogue business. This segment has its highest seasonal activity in the spring, when the fashion catalogues come out, and the autumn, when the Christmas catalogues and holiday brochures are printed. Commercial print and publishing business provide a more steady demand in this market.
Uncoated Paper. Uncoated fine paper represents the largest industry fine paper grade in terms of both global capacity and consumption. Uncoated fine paper is used for bond / writing and offset printing papers, photocopy papers, writing tablets (e.g., legal pads), speciality lightweight printing paper (e.g., bibles) and thin paper.
The market for uncoated paper products generally follows cyclical trends, which do not necessarily coincide with cycles for coated paper but are impacted by capacity changes in uncoated fine paper output levels.
Speciality Paper. The high value-added speciality paper markets in which Sappi Fine Paper operates generally follow trends in the respective end use sectors in addition to changes in production capacity, output levels and cyclical changes in the world economy. Largely due to the highly specialized nature of speciality paper, price fluctuations have historically tended to lag and be less precipitous than price changes in the uncoated fine paper market.
Coated Magazine Paper. Coated magazine paper has similar end-uses as coated fine paper and is used mainly for magazines and, among other things, for brochures, catalogues, advertising materials and promotional products. Depending on quality requirements and price levels, substitution between coated fine paper and coated magazine paper is possible. Coated magazine paper is made mainly from mechanical pulp and typically has glossy finishes on both sides. European demand for coated magazine paper grew by 1.6% in fiscal 2008 with eastern Europe experiencing a higher growth rate than western Europe. Worldwide demand for coated magazine paper contracted by 2.1% in fiscal 2008 and continued to contract post our fiscal 2008 year end due to a worldwide economic slowdown and a contraction in magazine advertising expenditure. Including the Acquired Business, we expect to be a major producer of coated magazine paper in Europe, as measured by capacity.
Newsprint. The Ngodwana mill produces newsprint. The worldwide market for newsprint is a low growth sector in the paper industry and was adversely affected during the early 1990s by substantial increased capacity and stagnating demand from, and cost-cutting measures imposed by, major newsprint end-users. In South Africa, newsprint demand has increased due to increased consumption based on new titles and a greater penetration of freesheets.
Our range of forest products comprises a variety of packaging papers produced in southern Africa at the Tugela, Cape Kraft and Ngodwana mills. We are one of the two major suppliers of packaging papers in South Africa.
Packaging Paper. As with fine paper, the market for packaging papers is affected by cyclical changes in the world economy, local economic growth, retail sales and by changes in production capacity and output levels. The southern African containerboard market was positively affected by strong gross domestic product growth and corresponding growth in retail sales during fiscal 2007. During fiscal 2008 the southern African containerboard market was further positively affected by a good citrus crop and corresponding demand from export markets, as well as strong demand from the industrial sector. Demand for sack kraft is largely driven by the demand for cement, potatoes, sugar and milling products. Our sack kraft market share was negatively affected by lower priced imported products and production constraints in fiscal 2005 and fiscal 2006 but in fiscal 2007 fiscal 2008 has increased due to higher priced and therefore less attractive imports and significant improvements in production output.
We produce chemical cellulose, as well as a wide range of paper pulp grades, including groundwood pulp used in newsprint, unbleached kraft pulp, bleached kraft pulp and bleached sulphite pulp.
Paper Pulp. The market pulp industry is highly competitive and is sensitive to changes in industry capacity, producer inventories, demand for paper and cyclical changes in the world economy. The market price per tonne of NBSK pulp, a pulp principally used for the manufacture of fine paper, is a benchmark widely used in the industry for comparative purposes.
NBSK prices hit a cyclical low of $380 per metric tonne in 2002. The pulp market improved towards the end of 2005 and remained firm during fiscal 2006, 2007 and 2008. As a result, NBSK prices averaged
US$ 695 per metric tonne during 2006 and continued to increase to US$ 770 in October 2006, US$ 830 in October 2007 and US$ 858, in September 2008. Since September 2008 pulp markets have weakened considerably due to the worldwide economic slowdown and the price of NBSK has declined to US$ 615 per metric tonne in January 2009.
Market unbleached kraft pulp (UKP) is used in the production of packaging papers, including kraft linerboard and sack kraft and for certain niche products such as oil and air filters. The market price of UKP generally follows the price trends of other paper pulp grades.
Chemical cellulose. The viscose staple fiber (VSF) industry which manufactures textile and non-woven fibers is the largest market segment for chemical cellulose. Prices of VSF grade chemical cellulose generally follow those of the European NBSK. Since 1995, the price of VSF grade chemical cellulose has ranged from a high of around US$ 1,100 per metric tonne in some instances in the third fiscal quarter of 2008 (second calendar quarter), to a low of US$ 470 per metric tonne in the second quarter of 2002. During fiscal 2008, prices of VSF grade chemical cellulose strengthened in line with NBSK prices. Subsequently these prices have fallen sharply as a result of the weaker economic conditions and the rapid decline in demand for chemical cellulose in the latter part of the quarter ended December 2008. Prices of the higher purity chemical cellulose used in applications other than for VSF products tend to be more stable and are largely unrelated to the price of NBSK. The manufacture of cellulose acetate flake (used in the manufacture of acetate tow for cigarette filter tips) is the second largest application for chemical cellulose after VSF. The market price for chemical cellulose used for cellulose acetate flake production is set by competitive forces within this specific market and has increased to levels above US$ 1,000 per metric tonne. The weakness in the paper pulp markets and chemical cellulose markets has put pressure on chemical cellulose prices since October 2008.
Our timber products operations are concentrated in South Africa and consist of sawn timber for the building industry and components for the furniture and packaging industry.
Sappi Fine Paper is our largest operating segment, accounting for approximately 65% of our sales volume for fiscal 2008 and approximately 63% of our sales volume in fiscal 2007. It has an aggregate annual paper production capacity of 4.4 million tonnes at 14 paper and related paper pulp mills in North America, Europe and South Africa.
Sappi Forest Products is an integrated pulp, packaging paper and timber products producer. In fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2008, Sappi Forest Products accounted for approximately 37% and 35%, respectively, of our sales volumes.
We also operate a trading network for the international marketing and distribution of our products outside our core operating regions of North America, Europe and southern Africa. Our trading operation, which we refer to as Sappi Trading, co-ordinates our shipping and other logistical functions for exports from southern Africa, Europe and North America. All sales and costs associated with Sappi Trading are allocated to the two business segments.
The markets for our pulp and paper products are significantly affected by changes in industry capacity and output levels and by cyclical changes in the world economy. For further information, see "Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsPrincipal Factors Impacting on Group ResultsMarkets" and "The Pulp and Paper Industry".
The chart below represents our operational rather than the legal or ownership structure as of September 2008. Units shown are not necessarily legal entities.
The following tables set forth certain information with respect to our operations for, or as of the end of, the year ended September 2008.
On December 31, 2008, we acquired specific assets of M-real Corporation's coated graphic paper business, including four of M-real Corporation's graphic paper mills in Finland, Germany and Switzerland, with an aggregate annual production capacity of 1.9 million tonnes, and three coaters from other M-real Corporation mills in Germany and Austria. See "The Acquisition of M-real Corporation's Coated Graphic Paper Business".
Sappi Fine Paper is our largest operating segment and contributed approximately 63% and 65%, respectively, of our sales volume in fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2008. It has the capacity to produce 4.4 million tonnes of paper per annum at its 14 paper and related paper pulp mills located on three continents. Sappi
Fine Paper operates in three principal regions: Sappi Fine Paper North America, Sappi Fine Paper Europe and Sappi Fine Paper South Africa.
The following chart sets forth certain information with respect to the mills and principal products of Sappi Fine Paper as of September 2008.
The following table sets out the approximate annual production capacity of Sappi Fine Paper's products.
Sappi Fine Paper North America is a leading producer and supplier of coated fine paper in the United States. Sappi Fine Paper North America also produces coated speciality papers and, from time to time, uncoated fine papers.
Sappi Fine Paper North America is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, and operates four paper mills in the United States in Somerset, Maine; Muskegon, Michigan; Westbrook, Maine; and Cloquet, Minnesota. These four mills have a total annual production capacity of approximately 1.3 million tonnes of paper and a capacity of approximately 0.9 million tonnes of paper pulp, which represents approximately 112% of Sappi Fine Paper North American pulp requirements. This significantly reduces Sappi Fine Paper North America's exposure to fluctuations in the price of market pulp that are not driven by fluctuations in wood or other major raw material prices. As part of our strategy to maintain an efficient asset base, we announced in July 2005 the closure of PM 4 and the mothballing of the pulp mill at Muskegon, which had an annual production capacity of 105,000 tonnes of paper and 110,000 tonnes of pulp, respectively.
Coated paper accounted for approximately 75% and 76% of Sappi Fine Paper North America's sales in fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2008, respectively. Speciality paper and pulp accounted for 25% and 24% for fiscal 2007 and 2008, respectively.
The following table sets forth sales by product for our North American operations.
For the year ended September 2008, Sappi Fine Paper North America sold approximately 1,553,000 tonnes of paper and pulp products. The following table sets forth the annual production capacity, number of paper machines, products, pulp integration, and for fiscal 2006 to fiscal 2008 capital expenditures, at each of our continuing mills in North America.
Cloquet. The Cloquet mill has two paper machines and an offline coater, producing premium coated paper. The newest machine and coater were installed in 1988 and 1989, respectively. The pulp mill started up by the previous owner in 2000 at a total cost of US$ 525 million. The Cloquet paper machines have an annual
production capacity of 330,000 tonnes of coated paper, and the state-of-the-art pulp mill has an annual production capacity of 410,000 tonnes.
Somerset. The Somerset mill is a low-cost producer and has an annual production capacity of approximately 760,000 tonnes of paper and approximately 490,000 tonnes of pulp. The pulp mill was built in 1976, and Somerset became an integrated facility with the completion of PM 1 in 1982. Each of the three paper machines at the Somerset facility employs Sappi Fine Paper North America's patented on-line finishing technology. This technology combines the three steps (paper making, coating and finishing) in the manufacture of coated paper into one continuous process. It is well suited for the lighter weight coated free sheet papers produced at Somerset, because it allows the production of high gloss, consistent quality products at high speeds.
Muskegon. The Muskegon mill consists of one paper machine with an annual winder capacity of approximately 170,000 tonnes of text and cover weight coated paper using Sappi Fine Paper North America's on-line finishing technology. On July 28, 2005, we announced the closure of PM 4 and the mothballing of the pulp mill at Muskegon, which had an annual production capacity of 105,000 tonnes of paper and 110,000 tonnes of pulp, respectively.
Westbrook. Westbrook is Sappi Fine Paper North America's original mill, with origins dating back to 1854. The mill is primarily a speciality paper production facility with an annual capacity of 30,000 tonnes of coated fine and casting release paper. Its paper machine primarily produces base paper, which is coated off-line. Westbrook also has six speciality coaters, including four employing Sappi Fine Paper North America's patented Ultracast® process. This process uses an electron beam to cure coating against a finely engraved steel roll, resulting in a virtually exact replication of the roll pattern. Sappi Fine Paper North America also has a research and development facility at Westbrook.
Sappi Fine Paper North America also operates a coated paper sheeting and distribution facility in Allentown, Pennsylvania, which was completed in 1994 and has an annual sheeting capacity of approximately 100,000 tonnes.
Sappi Fine Paper is a leading producer of coated fine paper in Europe and a producer of commercial printing paper, coated groundwood paper and speciality paper used in packaging, labeling and laminating. Sappi Fine Paper Europe's operations consist of seven mills with an aggregate annual production capacity of approximately 2.7 million tonnes of paper and 695,000 tonnes of related paper pulp. Sappi Fine Paper Europe's headquarters are located in Brussels, Belgium.
The following table sets forth sales by product for our Sappi Fine Paper Europe operations:
For the year ended September 2008, Sappi Fine Paper Europe sold approximately 2,545,941 tonnes, of paper and pulp products. The following table sets forth the annual production capacity, number of paper
machines, products, pulp integration, and, for fiscal 2006 to fiscal 2008, capital expenditures, at each of Sappi Fine Paper Europe's mills in Europe.
Alfeld. The Alfeld mill is located to the south of Hannover, Germany, and its origins date back to 1706. It has a paper production capacity of approximately 370,000 tonnes and a pulp production capacity of approximately 125,000 tonnes per annum. It produces coated fine and speciality paper products, which are mainly coated and have a variety of finishes. In 1995 a major rebuild of Alfeld's PM 3 was completed, enhancing the production of low substance flexible packaging papers. Alfeld's PM 3 employs a fully integrated concept of in-line coating and calendaring. The Alfeld mill produces totally chlorine-free ("TCF") bleached sulphite pulp for its own use. In early 2002, a rebuild of Alfeld's PM 2 was completed. Alfeld spent approximately € 50 million on the rebuild of its PM 2.
Ehingen. The Ehingen mill is located to the southeast of Stuttgart, Germany and was acquired by Hannover Papier, predecessor entity to Sappi Alfeld, in 1987. A paper machine with a capacity of 180,000 tonnes per annum of coated fine paper was commissioned in July 1991, expanding Ehingen from a market pulp mill into an integrated pulp and paper mill. During 1994, the construction of a high-rack warehouse was completed. As a result of upgrades during 1994 and 1996, Ehingen's total paper capacity was increased to 235,000 tonnes per annum. During June and July 2006 the paper machine was rebuilt and started up together with a new coater allowing a significant quality upgrade from single coated to triple coated fine paper with capacity of approximately 250,000 tonnes per annum. The pulp mill's capacity is currently 135,000 tonnes per annum of TCF bleached sulphite pulp. The pulp is produced mainly for internal use, but is also sold to third party customers.
Gratkorn. Paper has been produced at the Gratkorn, Austria site for more than four centuries. Following a major expansion and renovation project the Gratkorn mill has been transformed from a five-machine mill into a two-machine mill. As a result of this project, Gratkorn currently has an annual capacity of 900,000 tonnes of triple-coated fine paper on just two paper machines and 255,000 tonnes of TCF chemical pulp. The machines at Gratkorn are among the largest and most efficient paper machines in the world. After extension of Gratkorn's sheeting plant, it also has an annual sheet finishing capacity of 800,000 tonnes.
Maastricht. The Maastricht, Netherlands mill at January 2009 has the capacity to produce over 270,000 tonnes per annum of coated fine paper and board and one-side coated paper used primarily for printing labels. Paper was first produced in Maastricht in 1852. PM 6, which was installed at Maastricht in 1962, was first rebuilt in 1977. In 1996, PM 6 underwent an extensive NLG224 million (€ 102 million) rebuild. Maastricht
specializes in high basis-weight triple-coated fine paper and board for graphics applications. PM 6's production complements that of the Gratkorn mill, which produces lower weight coated fine paper. We ceased production at Maastricht's PM 5 in December 2008, having reached an agreement with the Mill's Works Council in respect of such action. Production ceased at PM5 which has reduced the mill's total capacity by 60,000 tonnes per annum. See "Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsLiquidity and Capital ResourcesMill Closures, Acquisitions, Dispositions, Impairment and Joint Ventures".
Lanaken. The Lanaken, Belgium mill began commercial operations in 1966. It produces coated groundwood paper and lower weight wood-containing coated paper for offset printing. Coated groundwood paper for web offset presses is used primarily in the production of advertising materials and magazines. Lanaken's two paper machines have a total annual capacity of 500,000 tonnes. One machine principally produces coated groundwood paper. It was completely overhauled in 1992, and an additional off-line coater was installed to provide triple coating capability. The other paper machine produces lower-weight wood-containing paper. Its capacity was increased to 305,000 tonnes per annum as a result of an optimization process during the mid-1990s. Lanaken produces chemi-thermo-mechanical pulp (CTMP) in an integrated plant which has been extended to an annual capacity of 180,000 tonnes. This enables the mill to supply approximately 63% of its fiber requirements for paper production.
During fiscal 2007 the administration of the Maastricht and Lanaken mills was combined to reduce costs.
Nijmegen. The Nijmegen, Netherlands mill began operations in 1955 and operates one paper machine. The mill specializes in the production of reels of coated fine paper for web offset printing. It also produces special coated fine paper for use in digital printing. The Nijmegen mill was upgraded in 2001. The upgrade increased its capacity by 40,000 tonnes per annum. With an annual production capacity of 240,000 tonnes, the Nijmegen mill is one of Europe's largest suppliers of coated fine web offset paper. Rotary, or web, offset paper is used for commercial printing and publishing.
Blackburn. The Blackburn, England mill was established in 1875, and has been a major producer of cast coated paper. The Blackburn mill was rebuilt completely in 1996. In May 2000, we sold our Astralux brand of cast coated papers produced at the mill to the Favini Group in Italy. The production of cast-coated papers at the Blackburn mill ceased at the end of May 2000. The annual capacity of the mill is 120,000 tonnes.
On September 22, 2008, we reached an agreement with labor representatives at the Blackburn mill pursuant to which the mill has been closed on November 12, 2008. See "Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsLiquidity and Capital ResourcesMill Closures, Acquisitions, Dispositions, Impairment and Joint Ventures".
Nash. The Nash mill in Hemel Hempstead, England operated as a paper mill since the 1800s and manufactured a variety of different grades of paper and board. During May 2006, production at the Nash mill was terminated and the plant and equipment were sold locally with some being transferred elsewhere in our Group. During the second quarter of fiscal 2007, the Nash site was sold for US$ 46 million and a pre-tax profit of US$ 26 million was recognized in our results in that quarter. Most of the products previously manufactured at the mill are now produced at the Adamas mill in South Africa.
Acquisition of coated graphic paper business from M-real Corporation. As part of the Acquisition, we acquired four of M-real Corporation's graphic paper mills: Kangas mill in Finland, with an annual production capacity of approximately 210,000 tonnes; Kirkniemi mill, also in Finland, with an annual production capacity of approximately 740,000 tonnes; Stockstadt mill in Germany, with an annual production capacity of approximately 420,000 tonnes and Biberist mill in Switzerland, with an annual production capacity of approximately 505,000 tonnes. These mills produce a range of coated and uncoated paper, including coated magazine paper. The Acquisition also includes the coaters from M-real Corporation's Gohrsmühle mill in Germany and Hallein mill in Austria. See "The Acquisition of M-real Corporation's Coated Graphic Paper Business".
Sappi Fine Paper, through Sappi Fine Paper South Africa, produces and markets a wide range of coated, uncoated and speciality papers as well as crêped tissue and fiberboard in South Africa. Sappi Fine Paper
South Africa is headquartered in Johannesburg. In the uncoated fine paper sector, Sappi Fine Paper operates one integrated pulp and uncoated paper mill, Enstra (located near Johannesburg). Stanger (located north of Durban) uses bagasse (the fibrous residue of sugar cane) to produce coated fine paper and tissue. A smaller paper mill, Adamas (located in Port Elizabeth) utilizes pulp from our pulp mills and waste paper to produce speciality paper and some kraft products. Adamas now also produces branded printing paper and board, previously produced at the Nash mill in the United Kingdom. Sappi Fine Paper South Africa is the only producer of coated fine paper in South Africa.
For the years ended September 2007 and 2008, Sappi Fine Paper South Africa sold approximately 350,000 tonnes and 339,000 tonnes, respectively, of paper and pulp products. The following table sets forth sales by product for our Sappi Fine Paper South Africa operations.
The following table sets forth the annual paper production capacity, number of machines, products and pulp integration, and, for fiscal 2006 to fiscal 2008, capital expenditures at each of the mills of Sappi Fine Paper South Africa.
Enstra. The Enstra mill is the largest mill of Sappi Fine Paper South Africa, with a capacity of approximately 200,000 tonnes of elemental chlorine-free uncoated fine paper products per annum. In 1996, the Enstra mill completed a US$ 96 million capital expenditure program. This program increased capacity by 50,000 tonnes per annum and has resulted in improved production efficiency and product quality. The product range at the Enstra mill caters to the business forms, scholastic, office, envelope and general printing industries. The mill has a capacity of 105,000 tonnes per annum of bleached hardwood pulp. The mill uses an oxygen bleaching process, which is a process that was developed at the mill in the 1970s and has since become the industry standard.
Stanger. The Stanger mill commenced operations in 1976. It is unique in South Africa in that it uses bagasse as its basic raw material to produce high quality matte and gloss coated art papers and tissue. Art paper is used for high quality books and magazines, brochures, annual reports and labels. A US$ 26 million upgrade of the mill's paper machine was completed in August 2001, increasing the coated paper capacity to 80,000 tonnes per annum. The mill also produces 30,000 tonnes of tissue per annum and has a capacity of 60,000 tonnes of bleached bagasse pulp per annum. A US$ 11 million upgrade on the bleach plant in 2006 converted the mill to an elemental chlorine free bleaching process.
Adamas. The Adamas mill is a small speciality mill. It produces high quality, uncoated prestige papers and boards in a variety of colors and embossing patterns. It also produces branded printing paper and board, previously produced at the Nash mill in the United Kingdom. The Adamas mill also produces packaging and industrial grades from waste paper. The mill has a capacity of 40,000 tonnes of paper per annum. This mill purchases waste paper and bleached pulp from our other mills.
The further integration of our international marketing and distribution efforts is one of our main strategic objectives. In order to attain this objective, we have adopted a system whereby the marketing and distribution of our fine paper products is performed by our operating business in the respective region, supplemented by a trading network outside these core regions.
Our trading network, Sappi Trading, coordinates the international marketing and distribution of our fine paper products outside our core regions. Sappi Trading operates in Hong Kong (China), Sydney (Australia), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Shanghai (China), Konstanz (Germany), Nairobi (Kenya), Mexico City (Mexico), Singapore, Johannesburg and Durban (South Africa), Zurich (Switzerland), Taipei (Taiwan) and New York (United States). It manages a network of agents around the world handling exports to over 70 countries. Sappi Trading also manages the export logistics of the southern African and United States operations.
We sell the vast majority of our coated and uncoated fine paper through merchants. We also sell paper directly to converters. We generally deliver products sold to converters from the mill or via a distribution warehouse. Electronic business-to-business interaction has become more important to us, and we will continue to focus on increasing service and efficiency through business-to-business interaction. The systems and structures have been put in place to actively continue these efforts.
Merchants are authorized to distribute Sappi Fine Paper's products by geographic area and to carry competitors' product lines to cover all segments of the market. Merchants perform numerous functions, including holding inventory, sales promotion and marketing, taking credit risk on sales and delivery, and distribution of the products. Merchants buy paper from Sappi Fine Paper and resell it, placing a mark-up on their purchase price. A merchant may either deliver to the customer from its own stock or arrange for delivery directly from the mill or one of the Sappi Fine Paper distribution warehouses.
Sappi Fine Paper North America's coated paper sales structure is organized in six regions with sales representatives located in all major market areas, and six technical representatives located in different regions in North America supporting the sales effort.
Approximately 8% of Sappi Fine Paper North America's sales for fiscal 2007 and 2008 were outside North America. Sappi Fine Paper North America's sales outside North America are handled in southern Africa by Sappi Fine Paper South Africa, in Europe by Sappi Fine Paper Europe and outside those regions by Sappi Trading.
In 2007 and 2008, the Sappi Fine Paper North America sales force sold coated graphic paper to approximately 338 and 340 merchant distribution locations, respectively. By selling exclusively through merchant channels, Sappi Fine Paper North America believes it has created a loyal group of merchant customers. Rather than competing with merchant distributors, the Sappi Fine Paper North America sales force focuses on generating demand with key printers, publishers and end users, which are then serviced by the merchant distributors.
Sappi Fine Paper North America's coated speciality papers are sold in North America through a dedicated speciality paper sales team directly to customers and outside of North America through a direct sales force, agents and distributors. The special end-use requirements often require a paper made to fit the customer's specific application.
As part of the formation of Sappi Fine Paper in 1998, the sales and marketing operations of Sappi Fine Paper Europe were reorganized into graphic paper, comprising printing and writing paper, and speciality paper, comprising paper for labeling, packaging and other speciality uses.
The sales division of the graphic paper unit is responsible for all sales of coated fine and groundwood papers in Europe. This includes European sales on behalf of Sappi Fine Paper North America and Sappi Fine Paper South Africa. It is also responsible for export sales to markets outside Europe. Sappi Fine Paper Europe's graphic products are distributed primarily by merchants. The export sales office manages exports to markets outside Europe through Sappi Trading, Sappi Fine Paper North America and Sappi Fine Paper South Africa.
Sappi Fine Paper Europe's centralized logistics department was formed in early 1998. It is responsible for the development and optimization of the logistics of the graphic and speciality papers business units and the re-engineering of the supply chain.
Sappi Fine Paper South Africa has a marketing and sales and technical support team based in four major centers in South Africa and one in the United Kingdom (Nash). Approximately 14% of the sales of Sappi Fine Paper South Africa in fiscal 2008 were outside of southern Africa to markets in Europe, Africa, Asia and North and Latin America. The products of Sappi Fine Paper South Africa are distributed in southern Africa primarily through merchants. In addition, some large volume orders are sold directly to printers and converters.
Sappi Fine Paper sells its products to a large number of customers, many of whom have long-standing relationships with us. These customers include merchants, converters and other direct consumers.
The most significant merchant customers, based on sales during fiscal 2008 include:
North America: xpedx (a division of International Paper Company), Lindenmeyr Paper Company (owned by Central National Gottesman Inc.), Unisource Worldwide, Inc. (a majority interest of which is owned by Bain Capital Corporation), Domtar Distribution and a select number of regionally strong merchants.
Europe: PaperlinX, Antalis (owned by Sequana Capital), IGEPA Group, Lozano and Papyrus.
Southern Africa: Antalis SA (Pty) Limited, Peters Papers and Finwood Papers (a division of Buhrmann Paper Merchant Division).
Two of these merchants, PaperlinX and IGEPA, represented individually more than 10% of our total sales during fiscal 2008.
Sappi Fine Paper's converter customers include both multinational and regional converters. The most significant converter customers, based on sales during fiscal 2008 include: Amcor Flexibles, Novelis, Alcan, VAW Flexible Packaging, Avery, Mactac, American Packaging, Oracal and Unigraphics. These customers use our products in the production of pressure- sensitive and other types of labels as well as flexible packaging. Nampak, the CTP Group of companies, Paarl Media Lithotech, Merpak and Freedom Stationery and Silveray are also significant converter customers. These companies use our products in the production of packaging products. No converter customer, however, represented more than 10% of our total sales during fiscal 2008.
Merchant sales constitute the majority of our fine paper sales. Pricing of fine paper products is generally subject to change upon notice of 30 days with longer notice periods (typically 3 to 6 months) for some large end-use customers. Sales to converters may be subject to longer notice periods, which would generally not exceed 12 months. We have long-standing relationships with most of our customers, with volume and pricing generally agreed on a quarterly basis.
Although the markets for pulp and paper have regional characteristics, they are highly competitive international markets involving a large number of producers located around the world.
Historically pulp and paper are subject to relatively low tariff protection in major markets, with existing tariff protections being further reduced under the World Trade Organization ("WTO"). In South Africa, no tariffs are imposed on imports of pulp and newsprint as well as most uncoated and coated woodfree products, with the exception of A4 office paper.
Competition in markets for our products is primarily based on price, quality, service, breadth of product line, product innovation and sales and distribution support. The speciality paper market puts greater emphasis on product innovation and quality as well as technical considerations. The packaging paper and newsprint markets place more emphasis on price.
In Western Europe and North America, industry production capacity closures of approximately 800,000 tonnes of coated fine paper and 1,300,000 tonnes of mechanical coated paper have been implemented between 2006 and 2007, with further production capacity closures of approximately 700,000 tonnes of coated fine paper and approximately 900,000 tonnes of coated mechanical paper having occurred up to September 2008.
The major domestic coated fine paper producers which compete with Sappi Fine Paper in North America are NewPage (formerly part of MeadWestvaco and currently owned by Cerberus) and Verso Paper (formerly part of International Paper Company and currently owned by an affiliate of Apollo Management L.P.). In addition, approximately 19% of US consumption is supplied by foreign producers, primarily Asian and European.
The market leaders in coated fine paper production in Europe are Sappi, Stora Enso, Burgo-Marchi Group, UPM-Kymmene and Lecta (which is owned by an affiliate of CVC Partners).
Mondi Paper Company Limited is a significant competitor of Sappi Fine Paper in southern Africa in the uncoated fine paper sector. Coated fine paper imports, primarily from Europe and Asia, have gained an increased share of the southern African fine paper market and as a result of declining import duties, which were removed in 2006. A substantial part of the imports originate from Sappi Fine Paper's European mills.
Sappi Forest Products, headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, is an integrated pulp, packaging paper and timber products producer. Sappi Forest Products operates five pulp and paper mills and one sawmill and is managed in three operating divisions: Sappi Saiccor, Sappi Kraft and Sappi Forests.
Sappi Forest Products is a major pulp and paper producer in Africa with a production capacity of 830,000 tonnes of paper, 800,000 tonnes of chemical cellulose and 1,050,000 tonnes of paper pulp per annum. It is also a major timber grower and manages directly and indirectly approximately 535,000 hectares of forestland, of which, approximately 389,000 hectares is planted with primarily pine and eucalyptus. Approximately 72% of our southern African pulpwood and sawlog requirements are from our own plantations. The term "directly manages" relates to plantations in southern Africa established on land that we either own or lease from a third party. The term "indirectly manages" relates to plantations in southern Africa established on land held by independent commercial farmers, where we provide technical assistance in the form of advice on the growing and tending of trees.
The following chart sets forth certain information with respect to the mills and principal products of Sappi Forest Products as of September 2008.
The following table sets forth sales by product for Sappi Forest Products' operations:
For the years ended September 2007 and 2008, Sappi Forest Products sold approximately 2,514,000 tonnes and 2,413,000 tonnes, respectively, of paper, pulp and forest products.
The following table sets forth annual production capacity with respect to Sappi Forest Products' products:
Saiccor was established in 1951 and acquired by us in 1988. It is a low-cost producer and the world's largest single producer of chemical cellulose. In 1995, we completed an approximately US$ 221 million expansion project to increase capacity by one third to approximately 600,000 tonnes per annum. Capital expenditures during the period from October 2005 to the end of September 2008 were approximately US$ 531 million. Included in this period were a modernization project to de-bottleneck production at Saiccor at a cost of US$ 40 million and an amount of $470 million spent on an expansion project to increase Saiccor's chemical cellulose capacity to approximately 800,000 tonnes per annum. Construction on the expansion project commenced in August 2006. Originally scheduled for completion in the first half of 2008, the project was subject to delays and cost increases. Production from the additional capacity commenced in September 2008 and should be fully operational in February 2009. As a result of the rapid decline in demand for chemical cellulose experienced since November 2008, we are not utilizing all of the additional capacity at present and are curtailing production in certain elements of the old plant while utilizing the new plant to improve efficiencies.
Almost all of Saiccor's chemical cellulose production is exported from South Africa and marketed and distributed internationally by Sappi Trading. The pulp principally produced is the type used in the manufacture of a variety of cellulose products, including viscose staple fibers or rayon and solvent spun fibers (lyocell). Both viscose and lyocell fibers are used in the manufacture of fashion and decorating textiles which have a soft, natural feel and excellent breathing properties. Given their particularly high absorbency properties, these fibers are also used in non-woven applications in the healthcare, industrial and disposable product markets. Chemical cellulose is also used in the manufacture of acetate flake, which is used in products such as filter tow for cigarette filters, and high quality yarns and fabrics. It is also used to manufacture microcrystalline cellulose, which is used as a rheological modifier in the food industry, as excipients for pharmaceuticals, and in various ethers for the chemical industry. It is also used to manufacture cellophane film for use in a variety of packaging applications.
The mill's timber consumption is comprised primarily of eucalyptus hardwoods. These fast growing trees are grown in relatively close proximity to the mill, which contributes to Saiccor's position as a low cost producer of chemical cellulose.
Based upon volume sold in fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2008, Sappi Kraft supplied approximately 57% and 59%, respectively, of South Africa's packaging paper requirements, other than cartonboard, from its Ngodwana, Tugela and Cape Kraft mills.
The following chart sets forth the annual paper production capacity, number of machines, products, pulp integration, and, for fiscal 2006 to fiscal 2008, capital expenditures at each of Sappi Kraft's mills in South Africa.
Ngodwana. Ngodwana was expanded between 1981 and 1985 from an unbleached kraft mill with a capacity of 100,000 tonnes per annum to a modernized mill with a capacity of approximately 240,000 tonnes of linerboard and 140,000 tonnes of newsprint per annum. The linerboard machine also produces White Top Liner (included in total linerboard capacity). The mill produces nearly 410,000 tonnes of bleached and unbleached pulp and 100,000 tonnes of groundwood pulp annually. The mill markets paper and excess pulp locally and in the export market. The mill is a large consumer of waste paper, which is used in the production of packaging paper. In 1995, the mill commissioned the world's first ozone bleaching plant, thus eliminating the use of elemental chlorine and significantly reducing mill effluent.
Tugela. Tugela is Sappi Kraft's largest integrated unbleached kraft mill, with a capacity of approximately 390,000 tonnes of packaging paper per annum. The mill supplies kraft linerboard and corrugating medium and most of South Africa's requirements for sackkraft, used in the production of multiwall sacks. Machine glazed packaging papers are also produced at the mill. The Kraft Linerboard machine was upgraded in 1996 at a cost of approximately US$ 81 million and the Sack Kraft machine and components of the pulp plant were upgraded in 2003 and 2004 at a cost of approximately US$ 50 million. It is the only mill in South Africa to offer high performance containerboard packaging and extensible Sack Kraft.
Cape Kraft. The Cape Kraft mill was built during 1980, commissioned in 1981 and upgraded in 1995. The mill presently has a capacity of 60,000 tonnes of linerboard and corrugating medium per annum, which it sells principally to the corrugating industry in the Western Cape. The mill uses approximately 67,000 tonnes per annum of waste paper to produce 60,000 tonnes per annum of paper. The fact that the mill's product is produced from 100% recycled paper can provide a competitive advantage in our markets, which are becoming increasingly environmentally aware.
Usutu Pulp. Usutu Pulp began production in 1961 and has been managed by us since 1989. The mill was upgraded during 1995 and 1996 at a cost of approximately US$ 69 million. During the period from
October 2002 to September 2007, an additional US$ 27 million was invested. The mill has a capacity of 190,000 tonnes of unbleached kraft pulp. The mill is situated in Swaziland and is surrounded by 66,000 hectares of forestlands, which it leases from the Swazi nation under a long-term lease extendable to 2089. The location of these forestlands, combined with the very compact areas the trees are planted on, provides for low wood delivery costs. See "Supply RequirementsSouthern AfricaWood" for more information.
In August 2008, forest fires caused by severe weather conditions resulted in the loss of approximately 28% of the mill's fiber supply. The volume of trees lost by Usutu reduced the value of the mill, which has therefore been impaired. An impairment loss of US$ 37 million has been recognized in fiscal 2008.
Sappi Kraft also manages Sappi Waste Paper. Sappi Waste Paper collected approximately 201,000 tonnes, of waste paper in fiscal 2008 and approximately 183,000 tonnes during fiscal 2007. Most of the waste paper collected was supplied to our mills. Waste represents approximately 30% of the fiber requirements of our packaging grades.
Sappi Forests, together with Usutu Forests, supplies or procures all of Sappi Forest Products' and Sappi Fine Paper South Africa's domestic pulpwood requirements of approximately 6 million tonnes per annum. 99% of the pulpwood comes from owned or contracted sources. Together they directly or indirectly manage or control, about 535,000 hectares of land situated in: Mpumalanga (44%), KwaZulu-Natal (44%) and Swaziland (12%).
Securing raw material for the future is a vital element in the long-term planning of Sappi Forest Products' business. Sappi Forests has an extensive research operation which concentrates on programs to improve the yield per hectare of forestland used. Significant progress has been made in developing faster-growing trees with enhanced fiber yields. Sophisticated nurseries have been developed to accommodate the seedling requirements of Sappi Forest Products' operations. Approximately 50 million seedlings are grown annually at Sappi Forests' and Usutu Forests nurseries.
Sappi Forests and Usutu Forests have spent approximately US$ 135 million in maintaining, acquiring and expanding plantations and other capital expenditure projects in the period from October 2005 to September 2008.
The sawmill division operates one mill with a total production capacity of 78,000 cubic meters per annum of structural timber for the building industry and components for the furniture and packaging industry.
Each of Sappi Forest Products' divisions with major South African markets has its own marketing and sales team. Sappi Trading manages the exports of the Sappi Forest Products' divisions, in particular the marketing and distribution of the market pulp produced at Saiccor and Usutu.
Sappi Forest Products sells its products to a large number of customers, including merchants, converters, printers and other direct customers, many of whom have long-standing relations with us.
The most significant printing customers, based on sales in fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2008, include: The CTP Group and Media 24, which uses Sappi Forest Products' newsprint; while the most significant converter customers, based on sales in fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2008, include: Nampak Limited; Mondipak; APL (Pty) Ltd and Houers Co-operative. A significant number of the viscose staple fiber manufacturers around the world purchase chemical cellulose from Sappi Forest Products, including large groups such as the Aditya Birla Group and the Lenzing Group. Most of our chemical cellulose sales contracts are multi-year contracts with pricing generally based on a formula linked to the NBSK price and reset on a quarterly basis.
Approximately 49% of the total sales of Sappi Forest Products during fiscal 2008 consisted of export sales.
Mondi Paper Company Limited is a significant competitor in most of the markets in which Sappi Forest Products operates in southern Africa. In recent years the regional recycled containerboard capacity has increased by approximately 100,000 tonnes. Due to exchange rate fluctuations a number of offshore containerboard suppliers have also entered the southern African packaging markets. In respect of chemical cellulose, competitors include Borregaard ChemCell Atisholz, Tembec Inc., Western Pulp Inc., Buckeye Technologies Inc. and Rayonier Inc.
The principal supply requirements for the manufacture of our products are wood, pulp, energy and chemicals. Large amounts of water are also required for the manufacture of pulp and paper products. See "Environmental and Safety MattersEnvironmental MattersSouth Africa". We believe that we have adequate sources of these and other raw materials and supplies necessary for the manufacture of pulp and paper for the foreseeable future. However, the global warming and carbon footprint imperatives are causing increased use of sustainable, non-fossil fuel, sources for electricity generation. Consequently, electricity generating companies are competing for the same raw materials, namely, wood and chips, in the same markets as us, thereby driving prices upwards.
In connection with the 1998 sale of our US timberlands to Plum Creek Timber Company L.P., Sappi Fine Paper North America and Plum Creek are parties to a fiber supply agreement with an initial term expiring in December 2023 and with three five-year renewal options. Under the supply agreement, Sappi Fine Paper North America is required to purchase from Plum Creek and Plum Creek is required to sell to Sappi Fine Paper North America a guaranteed annual minimum of 318,000 tonnes of hardwood pulpwood, or approximately 11% of Sappi Fine Paper North America's annual requirements, at prices calculated based on a formula tied to market prices. Sappi Fine Paper North America has the option to purchase additional quantities of hardwood pulpwood harvested from these timberlands at prices generally higher than the ones paid for the guaranteed quantities. The remainder of Sappi Fine Paper North America's wood requirements is met through market purchases.
Sappi Fine Paper North America's mills, taken together, are fully integrated on an economic basis with respect to hardwood pulp usage. Mills that are not fully integrated make market purchases, and mills that produce more pulp than they utilize make market sales.
Sappi Fine Paper North America's coated fine paper mills have achieved certification according to the chain of custody standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and our wood procurement group is certified to SFI's Fiber Sourcing standard. The mills also use post consumer waste and offer products containing up to 30% recycled content in addition to using reprocessed fiber recovered from its existing operations.
Sappi Fine Paper North America manufactures, in aggregate, pulp and fiber equivalent to approximately 112% of its own pulp requirements. This vertical integration reduces its exposure to fluctuations in the market price for pulp.
Sappi Fine Paper North America's energy requirements are satisfied through wood and by-products derived from the pulping process, coal, fuel oils, purchased electricity, steam, natural gas and other sources.
A substantial majority of Sappi Fine Paper North America's electricity requirements are satisfied through its own electricity generation or co-generation agreements. During June and July 2002, Sappi Fine Paper North America entered a series of contracts with Central Maine Power ("CMP") and a third party energy provider. The contracts provide that Somerset mill is to produce power at its maximum generation capacity, sell all of its excess generated power to CMP and purchase all of its power needs beyond its generation capacity from a third party provider. However, Sappi Fine Paper North America has entered into a short term amendment to these contracts pursuant to which Sappi Fine Paper North America may, at its election, produce power at less than its maximum generation capacity for non-operational or economic reasons and purchase additional power from the third party provider. This amendment expired on December 31, 2008 and the parties are in the process of negotiating an extension to this amendment. The rates for part of the purchases were pre-set in 2002 for the duration of the agreements and the remaining purchases are at market rates. The price we receive for any sales is equal to the average price of our monthly purchases. The agreements expire in 2012. Sappi Fine Paper North America also sells excess electricity it co-generates at the Westbrook mill.
The Cloquet mill is supplied partly with internally generated electricity. The Cloquet mill includes a hydroelectric facility that is licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In addition to generating a portion of its own power, the Cloquet mill has entered into a take-or-pay agreement to purchase a portion of its power from Minnesota Power. We may terminate this agreement at any time after December 31, 2008, subject to a four-year notice period.
Major chemicals used by Sappi Fine Paper North America include clays, carbonates, latexes and plastic pigments, titanium dioxide, caustic soda, other pulping and bleaching chemicals and chemicals for the speciality business. Sappi Fine Paper North America purchases these chemicals from a variety of suppliers. Chemical supplies have tightened due to the rationalization of capacity over the last several years. Most of these chemicals are subject to price fluctuations based upon a number of factors, including energy and crude oil prices and transportation costs, and the relationship between commodity demand and supply balances.
Sappi Fine Paper Europe purchases approximately 2,500,000 cubic meters of pulpwood per annum for its pulp mills. The wood is purchased both on contract and in the open market. Wood supply contracts are fixed for one year in terms of volumes. Price agreements range from three months for wood chips to one year for logwood.
The wood logs and wood chips used in the Gratkorn TCF pulp mill are purchased through the Papierholz Austria GmbH joint venture arrangement amongst Sappi, the Norske Skog Bruck mill Zellstoff Pöls, and the Frantschach Group. We hold a 42.5% ownership interest in Papierholz.
The wood chips used in the Lanaken CTMP plant are purchased through Sapin S.A. ("Sapin"), a 50%-50% joint venture company operated together with Norske Skog. Sapin was initially formed on November 25, 1986, pursuant to a joint venture agreement between the predecessors of Sappi Lanaken and Norske Skog. Under the agreement, as amended in September 2003, the parties agree to utilize Sapin exclusively to furnish the entire wood requirements of the joint venture partners' affiliated mills.
Sappi Fine Paper Europe produces approximately 46% of its pulp requirements. The remainder is supplied through open market purchases.
Sappi Fine Paper Europe's energy requirements are generally met by internal generation and external purchases of electricity, gas and, to a lesser extent, hard coal and oil. The delivery of natural gas, oil and coal is covered by various mid-term supply agreements.
Since July 2007 Gratkorn has operated a Combined Heat and Power Plant ("CHP") on site and has become an exporter of about 10 megawatts of electricity.
Substantially all of the electricity requirements of the Maastricht mill are satisfied by a 60 megawatt combined heat / power plant operated through a joint venture with Essent. All surplus electrical energy is supplied to the public electricity grid. We hold an ownership interest of 50% in the VOF Warmte / Kracht Maastricht mill, the joint venture, which was formed in 1992, and are obligated to purchase all of the steam and electricity requirements of the Maastricht mill from the joint venture facility under a long-term supply agreement. Essent purchases the surplus electrical energy of the plant. The Maastricht mill also purchases natural gas pursuant to a contract with a natural gas supplier.
The Nijmegen mill's electricity requirements are largely satisfied by its co-generation power plant. The Nijmegen mill purchases natural gas from a local supplier and a small amount of electricity from the public grid.
The Lanaken mill's energy requirements are generally met by purchases of natural gas and electricity. Certain of the energy requirements of the Lanaken mill are furnished by a combined heat and power unit constructed and operated pursuant to the Albertcentrale N.V. joint venture arrangement between Sappi, the Belgian power company Electrabel and Rabo Energie. We hold a 49% ownership interest in the Albertcentrale facility and are obligated to purchase the steam from the joint venture facility under a long-term supply agreement. The facility commenced operations in April 1997. Lanaken mill's electricity requirements are satisfied by a supply contract with the national utility company Electrabel.
Alfeld and Ehingen generate about 50% of their power needs from renewable resources and the remainder is purchased from a German power company EnBW.
Major chemicals used by Sappi Fine Paper Europe include clays, carbonates, latexes and starches and chemicals for the speciality business. Sappi Fine Paper Europe purchases most of these chemicals from a portfolio of suppliers, and in only one case is Sappi Fine Paper Europe dependent on a sole source of supply. There are generally adequate sources of supply in the market. Most of these chemicals are subject to price fluctuations based upon a number of factors, including energy and crude oil prices and transportation costs, and the relationship between commodity demand and supply imbalances.
As part of the Acquisition we entered into various agreements pursuant to which M-real Corporation and its parent company will supply wood, pulp and electricity to the mills acquired for certain minimum periods. See "The Acquisition of M-real Corporation's Coated Graphic Paper Business".
Sappi Forest Products manages directly or indirectly approximately 535,000 hectares of forestland in southern Africa, of which approximately 389,000 hectares are forested, which produces approximately 72% of the timber required for its operations. Sappi Forests owns approximately 369,000 hectares and manages the majority of the remainder. Usutu Pulp cultivates 52,000 hectares of pine on 66,000 hectares of land that is
leased from the Swazi nation on a long-term lease, which we have the option to extend until 2089. Sappi Forests presently has supply contracts for the timber from approximately 90,000 hectares of plantations planted by small growers with our technical and financial support. The remaining timber requirements are met through a number of significant medium-term contracts and open market purchases. During the traditional fire seasons in the winter of 2007 and 2008, which were exacerbated by severe weather conditions, approximately 14,000 hectares and 26,000 hectares, respectively, were affected by fire. We expect that the lost timber will have fully re-grown over three years.
Sappi Forest Products and Sappi Fine Paper South Africa in aggregate manufacture all of the pulp required in their respective papermaking operations, except minimal quantities of specialized pulps, and together are a net seller of bleached and unbleached paper pulp. This vertical integration substantially reduces our exposure to fluctuations in the market price for pulp.
Our energy requirements in southern Africa are met principally by purchases of coal and electricity supplemented by purchases of fuel oil and gas. Much of the energy demand is met by internally generated biomass and spent liquors from the pulping process. Electricity is supplied by Eskom, the state-owned electricity company, or generated internally. The electricity generated by our plants in southern Africa is equivalent to approximately 43% of our total electricity requirements. Coal, both for steam raising and gas production, and oil are purchased on contract. The power disruptions experienced in South Africa in early calendar 2008 had a negative but limited effect on our production and profits. In the event of power outages, certain of our mills have the capacity to continue production but the recourse to replacement energy sources results in increased production cost. Power disruptions tend to affect our mills that are dependent on the national grid, while our mills that receive power from municipalities rather than the national grid are generally less affected by power outages. We also from time to time enter into agreements with Eskom to supply our excess power to the national grid in exchange for continued supply of power to those of our mills that do not have the capacity to generate all of their electricity requirements.
Major chemicals used by Sappi Forest Products and Sappi Fine Paper South Africa include caustic soda, calcium carbonates, latexes and starches and sulphur and sulphuric acid. Sappi Forest Products and Sappi Fine Paper South Africa purchase these chemicals from a variety of South African and overseas suppliers. There are generally adequate sources of supply, and in only one case is Sappi Fine Paper South Africa dependent upon a sole source of supply. Most of these chemicals are subject to price fluctuations based upon a number of factors, including energy and crude oil prices and transportation costs, and the relationship between commodity demand and supply imbalances.
We are subject to a wide range of environmental laws and regulations in the various jurisdictions in which we operate, and these laws and regulations have tended to become more stringent over time. Violations of environmental laws could lead to substantial costs and liabilities, including civil and criminal fines and penalties. Environmental compliance is an increasingly important consideration in our businesses, and we expect to continue to incur significant capital expenditures and operational and maintenance costs for environmental compliance, including costs related to reductions in air emissions including carbon dioxide ("CO2") and other greenhouse gases ("GHG"), wastewater discharges and waste management. We closely monitor the potential for changes in pollution control laws and take actions with respect to our operations accordingly. See note 33 to our Group Annual Financial Statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for more information.
Sappi Fine Paper North America is subject to stringent environmental laws in the United States. These laws include the Federal Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and their respective state counterparts and implementing regulations. The State of Maine had its first hearing in December 2008 to determine whether it will require Sappi Fine Paper North America to install a fishway at its Cumberland mills dam on the Presumpscot River. A fishway on the Cumberland mills dam would trigger the obligation to install fishways at Sappi Fine Paper North America's dams upstream of the Cumberland mills dam, to allow natural fish migration and thus promote the restoration of native species to the river. The total cost of these projects, if required, is estimated to be approximately US$ 18 million. Previous settlement discussions with government agencies and environmental groups regarding the removal of the Cumberland mills dam were not successful. It is expected that a decision will be made by the State by June 2009.
Although the United States has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, and has not yet adopted a federal program for controlling GHG emissions, there are various state and regional initiatives regarding GHG regulation and Congress is considering a number of legislative proposals regarding climate change. Accordingly, we closely monitor state, regional and Federal GHG initiatives in anticipation of any potential effects on our operations.
Our European facilities are subject to extensive environmental regulation in the various countries in which we operate. For example:
The countries within which we operate in Europe have all ratified the Kyoto Protocol and we have developed a GHG strategy to comply with applicable GHG restrictions and to manage emission reductions cost effectively. Our expenditures related to GHG compliance in Europe are not expected to be material.
In Southern Africa, the environmental regulatory legal framework is still evolving. We work with legislators in striving to find a balance between economic, social and environmental uses of natural resources.
The Minister of Environment Affairs and Tourism considered it necessary to strengthen enforcement of legislation by the Environmental Management Inspectors (EMI's) in his department. The EMI's prioritized various sectors of industry and inspected those sectors in the course of the past two years. In 2008, the EMI's focused attention on the pulp and paper sector, signaling more stringent enforcement for Sappi mills.
In August 2008 the EMI's conducted a comprehensive inspection at our Ngodwana Mill. No findings will be disclosed before the draft report is handed to us. By mid January 2009 the draft report had not yet been received. We will be requested to respond within three weeks thereafter to the findings in the draft report. At this time we do not expect major or disruptive legislative action.
The primary South African environmental laws affecting our operations are:
industry and forestry. All water use is subject to a charge. We expect to incur additional costs over the next decade to comply with the National Water Act, but are unable to quantify these at this time.
The requirements under these statutes will result in additional expenditures and may cause operational constraints. Although we are in frequent contact with regulatory authorities during the phasing in of the legislation, we are uncertain as to the ultimate effect on our operations. Our current assessment of the legislation is that any compliance expenditures or operational constraints will in the aggregate, not be material to our financial condition.
The forestry, timber and pulp and paper industries involve inherently hazardous activities including, among other things, the operation of heavy machinery. Nearly all countries in which we have significant manufacturing operations, including South Africa, the United States and European countries, regulate health and safety in the workplace. We actively seek to reduce the frequency of accidents in our workplaces and to improve health and safety conditions by extensive training and educational programs.
Our global safety improvement initiative, Project Zero, sets out the goal of no injuries. It involves implementing behavior-based safety programs throughout our Group and focusing on those activities which have in the past resulted in injuries or fatalities.
In the United States, Sappi Fine Paper North America must comply with a number of Federal and state laws regarding health and safety in the workplace. The most important of these laws is the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act.
In Europe, we participate in various governmental worker accident and occupational health insurance programs. In Belgium and The Netherlands, these programs are funded by mandatory contributions by employers and employees. In Germany, we participate in a similar mandatory contribution scheme controlled by the German government, which permits employer and employee participation in its administration. In Austria and the United Kingdom, employee liability insurance is funded by the employer. The safety and health issues are integrated into the management systems and all mills of Sappi Fine Paper Europe comply with health and safety legislation and are OHSAS 18001 certified.
In South Africa, we must comply with a number of laws regulating workers' compensation for injuries and health and safety within the workplace, the most important of which is the Occupational Health and Safety Act and related regulations. Our South African businesses have instituted measurement for evaluating compliance with this legislation. Seven of the eight mills, as well as Sappi Forests, are both OHSAS 18001:1999 and ISO 14001:2004 certified for health and safety management systems and environmental management systems, respectively.
Sappi Limited is the ultimate holding company of the Sappi Group. The following table sets forth significant subsidiaries and joint ventures owned directly or indirectly by Sappi Limited at September 2008.
For a description of the production capacity of our mills, see "Sappi Fine PaperFacilities and Operations" and "Sappi Forest ProductsFacilities and Operations".
For a description of the plantations we own or have recently sold, "Sappi Forest ProductsFacilities and OperationsSappi Forests" and "Supply Requirements".
For a description of our capital expenditures, see "Item 5Operating and Financial Review and ProspectsLiquidity and Capital Resources".
The following table sets forth the location and use of our principal headquarters, manufacturing and distribution facilities. These facilities are owned unless otherwise indicated.
You should read the following discussion and analysis together with our Group Annual Financial Statements, including the notes, included elsewhere in this Annual Report. Certain information contained in the discussion and analysis set forth below and elsewhere in this Annual Report includes forward- looking statements that involve risk and uncertainties. See "Forward Looking Statements", "Item 3Key InformationSelected Financial Data", "Item 3Key InformationRisk Factors", "Item 4Information on the Company", "Item 10Additional InformationExchange Controls" and the notes to our Group Annual Financial Statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for a discussion of important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the results described in or implied by the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report.
The consolidated financial statements of the Sappi Group including the applicable notes thereto, contained in Item 18 "Financial Statements" of this Annual Report and the consolidated financial information of the Sappi Group contained herein have been prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).
Our fiscal years operate on a 52 accounting week cycle, except every 6th fiscal year which includes an additional accounting week. Fiscal 2008, 2007 and 2006 operated on a 52 accounting week cycle.
We are a global company which through acquisitions in the 1990s has been transformed into one of the global market leaders in coated fine paper. Two acquisitions were pivotal in establishing us as a global company, namely the acquisition in 1994 of S.D. Warren Company, now known as Sappi Fine Paper North America, and the acquisition in 1997 of KNP Leykam, now integrated into Sappi Fine Paper Europe. The fine paper acquisitions have been integrated into a single fine paper business, which operates under the name Sappi Fine Paper. On December 31, 2008 we acquired the coated graphic paper business of M-real Corporation. See "Item 4Information on the CompanyBusiness OverviewThe Acquisition of M-real Corporation's Coated Graphic Paper Business". Further opportunities to grow within our core businesses will continue to be evaluated.
Our group is organized into two operating segments: Sappi Fine Paper and Sappi Forest Products. We also operate a trading network, called Sappi Trading, for the international marketing and distribution of chemical cellulose and market pulp throughout the world and of our other products in areas outside the core operating regions of North America, Europe and southern Africa.
Sales by source and destination for fiscal 2008, fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2006 were as follows:
Sappi Fine Paper has a total paper production capacity of 4.4 million tonnes per annum. Our group is one of the global market leaders in the coated fine paper business with a capacity of 3.4 million tonnes of coated fine paper per annum.
On a historical basis our group was approximately 103% integrated for net pulp usage, and after the Acquired Business our group is 92% integrated on a net pulp basis. This means that while some facilities are market buyers of pulp and others are market sellers, in the aggregate we produce less pulp than we use. By region, the South African operations are net sellers of pulp, Sappi Fine Paper North America produces slightly more pulp than it uses and the European operations are approximately 46% integrated. The expansion of our Saiccor mill in South Africa when fully commissioned will increase pulp production by circa 200,000 tonnes. Approximately 72% of the wood requirements of the South African businesses are from sources either owned
or managed by us. Both the North American and European operations are dependent on outside suppliers of wood for their pulp production requirements.
On November 5, 1998, our American Depositary Receipts commenced trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Based on available information, as of September 30, 2008 we believe beneficial shareholding by region is as follows:
Source: Registered addresses and disclosure by nominee companies, excluding the shares owned by a subsidiary of Sappi.
Our results of operations are affected by numerous factors. Given the high fixed cost base of pulp and paper manufacturers, industry profitability is highly sensitive to changes in sales prices. Prices are significantly affected by changes in industry capacity and output levels, customer inventory levels and cyclical changes in the world economy. Profitability in the industry is, however, also influenced by factors such as sales volume, the level of raw material, energy, chemicals and other input costs, exchange rates, and operational efficiency.
The principal factors that have impacted the business during the financial periods presented in the following discussion and analysis and that are likely to continue to impact the business are:
Because many of these factors are beyond our control and certain of these factors have historically been volatile, past performance will not necessarily be indicative of future performance and it is difficult to predict future performance with any degree of certainty.
We continually evaluate the performance of our assets by maintaining a focus on profitability and we actively manage our asset base on a regional basis, including by directing or closing non-performing assets and by pursuing an investment policy that is focused on high-return projects. Some of these recent investments include the following:
In August 2006, we announced the expansion of the capacity at our Saiccor mill in South Africa, where chemical cellulose products are produced. The capacity of the mill was approximately 600,000 tonnes per annum. The expansion has increased capacity to approximately 800,000 tonnes per annum. Originally scheduled for completion in the first half of calendar 2008, the project has been subject to delays and cost increases. The increased capacity came on-line in September 2008 and the plant is expected to be fully operational by mid February 2009. As a result of the rapid decline in demand for chemical cellulose
experienced since November 2008, we are not utilizing all of the additional capacity at present and are curtailing production in certain elements of the old plant while utilizing the new plant to improve efficiencies.
In August 2008 we announced that we had undertaken a review of our European production activities in response to overcapacity and significant input cost pressure, and in accordance with our strategy of maintaining an efficient asset base. In that context, we reached an agreement with labor representatives at our Blackburn mill on September 22, 2008, pursuant to which the mill closed on November 12, 2008 as no buyer could be found before that date. Production at the Blackburn mill stopped on October 17, 2008. On December 19, 2008 we also ceased production from PM 5 at our Maastricht mill. As a result of the closure of our Blackburn mill and upon cessation of production from PM 5 at our Maastricht mill, our coated graphic fine paper capacity will be reduced by 190,000 tonnes. Profitable products will be moved to other facilities in Europe. See "Mill Closures, Acquisitions, Dispositions, Impairment and Joint Venture".
On December 31, 2008, we acquired the coated graphic paper business from M-real Corporation. See "Item 4Information on the CompanyBusiness OverviewThe Acquisition of M-real Corporation's Coated Graphic Paper Business" and "Item 3Key InformationRisk FactorsRisks Related to the Acquisition of the Coated Graphic Paper Business Acquired from M-real Corporation".
The markets for pulp and paper products are cyclical, with sales prices significantly affected by factors such as changes in industry capacity and output levels, customer inventory levels and changes in the world economy. The pulp and paper industry has often been characterized by periods of imbalances between supply and demand, causing prices to be volatile. Prices also vary significantly by geographic region and product. Coated fine paper, our core product used for many types of publications, is susceptible to the highly cyclical advertising market, a major driver in our business.
Worldwide economic conditions have recently experienced a significant downturn, resulting in significant recessionary pressures and lower business and consumer confidence. As a result, although the full impact of the downturn may not occur until later in the year, we may experience a slowing in demand in all our major markets and downward pressure on pricing in many markets, which could adversely affect our business and financial condition.
In anticipation of slowing demand, during December 2008 we took production downtime and we will consider taking further downtime in fiscal 2009 to balance supply and demand.
Coated fine paper demand from fiscal 2006 to fiscal 2008 increased due to the upswing in world economic growth and resultant increase in advertising activities. The increase in coated fine paper demand continued during the first half of fiscal 2008, but global demand started to decline during the remainder of fiscal 2008 due to a slowdown in the global economy. Coated fine paper demand declined rapidly in our major markets during our first fiscal quarter of 2009 as major economies continued to slow down.
Global Coated Fine Paper Market Balance
The global demand to capacity ratio for coated fine paper increased to approximately 95% in fiscal 2007 and further increased to approximately 98% during fiscal 2008. No increases in industry capacity in Europe and North America were discernible during this period, with companies reluctant to undertake major new capital projects in these regions due to the poor returns being achieved. Despite global overcapacity, high Asian demand growth rates and availability of funding led to significant coated fine paper capacity additions between fiscal 2000 and fiscal 2008 in Asia, particularly in China. Announced closures of coated fine paper production capacity of approximately 1.2 million tonnes in Europe are expected to positively affect the supply / demand balance in Europe during 2009, which balance will also be impacted by the economic slowdown.
In North America the tight supply / demand conditions existed in fiscal 2006 as inventory throughout the supply chain dropped, giving rise to price increases. In total, North American apparent consumption grew by 8.6% in fiscal 2006 but declined by 7.2% in fiscal 2007. Apparent consumption further declined by 11% during fiscal 2008, as compared to the corresponding period in 2007. The decreases in apparent consumption during fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2008 were due to a decrease in advertising activities and printer consumption; the decreases being partly offset by a significant reduction in imports. Imports of coated fine paper into the United States decreased by approximately 22% during fiscal 2007 compared to fiscal 2006 mainly due to a reduction in Chinese imports of coated fine paper following the imposition of countervailing import duties placed on certain Asian producers by the US Department of Commerce. The relative weakness of the US$ also made imports less attractive, supporting demand for local products. These significant decreases in coated fine paper imports were largely due to Chinese coated fine paper imports being reclassified as coated groundwood paper in late calendar 2007. As a result, such imports are accounted for statistically as coated groundwood paper rather than coated fine paper. These countervailing import duties were abolished during 2008, but the classification of Chinese coated paper imports as coated groundwood paper continued. Coated fine paper prices in North America increased during fiscal 2008 compared to fiscal 2007, with the largest increase of approximately 12% being in the grade that represents the largest end use of coated fine paper, Number 3 60lb rolls. The decline in coated fine paper demand in North America post our fiscal year end, has been and is expected to continue to put pressure on sales volumes and selling prices.
In Europe, demand for coated fine paper was flat in fiscal 2008 as compared to fiscal 2007. Demand grew by 1.4% in fiscal 2007 and 2.3% in fiscal 2006. Capacity utilization, including exports, was high in fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2008. Despite relatively flat demand year-on-year and sharp increases in input costs, attempts to increase prices in the European market in fiscal 2007 and in fiscal 2008 were unsuccessful due to intense
competition and persisting over-capacity. However, a small increase in coated fine paper prices of approximately 1% occurred during September 2008. Although the relative weakness of the US$ versus the Euro made exports less attractive compared to regional sales, exports from Europe grew by 3.7% in fiscal 2008 compared to fiscal 2007. Demand for coated fine paper showed a decline post our fiscal year end compared to fiscal 2008 due to continued weakness in European economies.
The graph below reflects apparent consumption for the United States and Europe. Apparent consumption is consumption as indicated by mill sales volumes, which ignores the impact of customer inventory and the reclassification of imports. The sales volume to customers is used as the indicator of demand, with the difference between apparent and real demand being the movement in inventories.
US and European Apparent Consumption of Coated Paper
Source: AF&PA & Cepifine.
The price history for benchmark coated woodfree grades in North America and Europe is shown in the following chart:
US and European Apparent Consumption of Coated Paper
Source: RISI (Resource Information System Inc).
Prices are list prices. Actual transaction prices could differ.
Sappi Fine Paper North America's average price realized in fiscal 2008 increased by US$ 68 per short ton, to US$ 1,071, as compared to fiscal 2007. These increases were due to a weaker US dollar, reduced supply
and a sales and marketing strategy that was more focused on price levels. Sappi Fine Paper North America's average price realized decreased by US$ 6 per short ton to US$ 1,003 per short ton in fiscal 2007 compared to fiscal 2006, mainly due to competitive import price pressure and changes in product mix. In fiscal 2006, prices in North America decreased to US$ 1,009 per short ton from US$ 1,017 per short ton in fiscal 2005.
Prices in Europe, in the local currency, decreased in fiscal 2008 (€ 709 per tonne) compared to fiscal 2007 (€ 722 per tonne), mainly due to increased competition in the market. Despite sharp input cost increases and capacity closures during fiscal 2007, prices in Europe, in the local currency, were relatively flat in fiscal 2007 (€ 722 per tonne) compared to fiscal 2006 (€ 724 per tonne), but significantly lower than fiscal 2005 (€ 732 per tonne). Sales prices in Europe are impacted by the movement in the US$ / Euro exchange rate as explained in more detail in the analysis of sales development by region contained in "Operating and Financial ResultsSales".
European deliveries of coated magazine paper increased by 1.5% in fiscal 2008 compared to fiscal 2007, while average market prices for coated magazine paper in Europe increased by 4.4%. In fiscal 2007, deliveries by producers of coated magazine paper increased approximately 2.3%. The price development in Europe was unfavorable for coated magazine paper, decreasing by 3.2% compared to fiscal 2006. In fiscal 2006, deliveries by European producers increased by approximately 0.8%, compared to fiscal 2005, primarily due to increased exports to markets outside Europe. Average market prices in Europe increased by approximately 0.7%. The strengthening of the euro against the US dollar depressed the euro-equivalent selling prices for exports.
The average NBSK prices for fiscal 2008, fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2006 were US$ 876, US$ 764 and US$ 643 per tonne, respectively. High pulp demand during fiscal 2007 resulted in the continued increase of pulp prices. The pulp demand during the latter part of fiscal 2007 and for most of fiscal 2008 remained high as none of the usual seasonal decreases occurred. Pulp demand and prices started decreasing during the latter part of fiscal 2008. Both pulp demand and prices continued to decline post our fiscal year end.
Since we sell roughly as much pulp as we purchase, fluctuations in market pulp prices have a marginal direct impact on our overall profitability. At a divisional level, pulp prices do, however, affect profitability since Sappi Fine Paper Europe is a net buyer of hardwood pulp and Sappi Forest Products is a net seller of hardwood pulp.
The price of NBSK and Bleached Hardwood Kraft pulp (BHKP) is depicted in the following chart:
PIX Benchmark Pulp Prices
Source: PIX (Index from Foex Indexes Ltd).
Chemical cellulose accounts for the majority of our third-party pulp sales. The chemical cellulose produced at our Saiccor mill in South Africa is used principally as an input in the production of various textiles and acetate flake used in the manufacturing of acetate tow for cigarette filter tips. The movement in price of certain chemical cellulose grades is linked to the price of NBSK. Higher technical specifications allow chemical cellulose to typically trade at a premium to NBSK. BHKP generally sells at a lower price than NBSK. We maintained volumes during fiscal 2006 and fiscal 2007. While demand for chemical cellulose remained strong during the fiscal 2008, sales during that period were at a lower level as compared to the prior year, primarily as a result of a shortfall in production volumes. Since November 2008 we have experienced a rapid decline in demand for chemical cellulose. Prices in US$ have steadily increased year on year from fiscal 2006 to fiscal 2008. NBSK prices have declined from US$ 858 per metric tonne at the end of our 2008 fiscal year to US$ 615 per metric tonne in January 2009. Significant competitive sources of chemical cellulose supply were recently removed from the industry when Weyerhauser closed its 140,000 tonnes per annum Cosmopolis plant in September 2006 and the RGM mill in Indonesia (P.T. Toba) converted production from chemical cellulose to paper grade pulp in May 2008. The capacity of the RGM mill is 180,000 tonnes per annum. In addition the Baikalsk mill in Russia (90,000 tonnes per annum) switched to producing unbleached kraft pulp during 2008 and the Borregaard mill in Switzerland (120,000 tonnes per annum) announced that it would close in December of 2008. These closures are balanced by the start-up of an additional 250,000 tonnes per annum by the Bahia pulp mill in Brazil, the conversion of the AV Nackawic mill in Canada (180,000 to 200,000 tonnes per annum) to chemical cellulose and the increase in capacity at our Saiccor mill by 200,000 tonnes per annum.
The principal currencies in which our subsidiaries conduct business are the US dollar (US$), Euro and South African Rand (ZAR). Although the reporting currency is the US$, a significant portion of the Group's sales and purchases are made in currencies other than the US$. In Europe and North America, sales and expenses are generally denominated in Euro and US$, respectively; however, pulp purchases in Europe are primarily denominated in US$. In South Africa, costs incurred are generally denominated in ZAR, as are local sales. Exports from the South African businesses to other regions, which in local currency represented approximately 43% of net sales in fiscal 2008 (fiscal 2007: 47%), are denominated primarily in US$.
The appreciation of the ZAR or the Euro against the US$ tends to diminish the value of exports from South Africa and Europe in local currencies, while depreciation of these currencies against the US$ has the opposite impact. Since expenses are generally denominated in local currencies, the depreciation of the US$ has a negative effect on gross margins on exports and such domestic sales which are priced relative to international US$ prices. The appreciation of the US$ has the opposite impact. The Group's consolidated
financial position, results of operations and cash flows may be materially affected by movements in the exchange rate between the US$ and the respective local currencies to which subsidiaries are exposed. The principal currencies in which subsidiaries conduct business that are subject to the risks described in this paragraph are the Euro and ZAR. The following table depicts the average and year end exchange rates for the ZAR and Euro against the US$ used in the preparation of our financial statements in fiscal 2008, fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2006:
Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank.
The profitability of certain of our South African operations are directly dependent on the ZAR proceeds of their US$ exports. Prices in the local South African market are also influenced by pricing of foreign currency imports.
The translation of our annual results into the presentation currency (US$) from local currencies tends to distort comparisons between financial periods when currencies are volatile. The Euro strengthened substantially against the US$ to an average of US$ 1.51 / Euro in fiscal 2008, (from an average US$ 1.33 / Euro in fiscal 2007 and US$ 1.23 / Euro in fiscal 2006) while the ZAR weakened on average against the US$ to ZAR 7.43 / US$ in fiscal 2008 (from an average of ZAR 7.17 / US$ in fiscal 2007 and an average of ZAR 6.60 / US$ in fiscal 2006). The net impact of these currency movements increased reported sales in US$ by US$ 259 million in fiscal 2008 and US$ 61 million in fiscal 2007. This impacts the currency translation effects on our historic results of operations and are described in "Operating ResultsSales" and "Operating expenses".
The graph below summarizes the South African inflation and interest rates, as well as the South African Reserve Bank lending rate (repo rate).
South African Inflation and Interest Rates
Source: Standard Bank South Africa.
In the US and Europe inflation rates were relatively stable in recent years, and accordingly had a lesser impact on our North American and European businesses. Please see table below depicting the fiscal period average United States 3 month Libor.
United States 3 Month Average Libor
The fiscal period average three-month Euribor interest rate in Europe is depicted below. The relatively low interest rates in the United States and Europe continue to represent a significant interest rate differential when compared to South Africa's 11% repurchase rate as determined by the SARB, and could result in further short-term strengthening of the ZAR.
With regard to interest rate swaps, hedge accounting is permitted when the hedging relationship between the hedging instrument and the underlying debt meets the relevant requirements of IFRS. For example, the Group has entered into hedging relationships to swap the fixed rate on its public bonds to a variable rate.
European 3 Month Euribor
The group is exposed to interest rate risk as it borrows funds at both fixed and floating interest rates. The group monitors market conditions and may utilize approved interest rate derivatives to alter the existing balance between fixed and variable interest rate loans in response to changes in the interest rate environment. Hedging of interest rate risk for periods greater than one year is only allowed if income statement volatility can be minimized by means of hedge accounting, fair value accounting or other means.
The group has a current policy of not hedging translation risks. The South African and European operations use the ZAR and the Euro as their respective functional currencies. Any translation of the value of these operations into US$ results in foreign exchange translation differences as the ZAR and the Euro exchange rates move against the US$. These changes are booked to the foreign currency translation reserve account. Borrowings taken up in a currency other than the functional currency of the borrowing entity are specifically hedged with financial instruments, such as currency swaps and forward exchange contracts.
For further information, see note 30 to our Group Annual Financial Statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for a detailed explanation.
Sappi Limited is a public company incorporated in South Africa. We have significant operations in South Africa, which accounted for 27% of our net sales in fiscal 2007 and 25% of our net sales in fiscal 2008. See "Operating ResultsOverviewOperating Profit / (Loss)" for the proportion of South African operating profit to total profit.
South Africa features a highly developed, sophisticated "first world" infrastructure at the core of its economy. Econometrix, a provider of economic analysis and forecasting for the South African economy, forecasts the South African GDP to grow by 3.4% and 2.4%, respectively, in calendar 2008 and calendar 2009. South Africa's long-term foreign currency investment ratings have remained constant over the last year with a BBB+ (investment grade) from Standard & Poor's Rating Service (S&P) and Fitch. On November 12, 2008 Fitch changed its outlook on the country's creditworthiness from stable to negative. Exchange controls regulations have not been amended during fiscal 2008 South African companies remain subject to restrictions on their ability to raise and deploy capital outside of the southern African Common Monetary Area. (See "Item 10Additional InformationExchange Controls").
South Africa completed 14 years of democracy in calendar 2008; however, the country continues to face challenges in overcoming substantial differences in levels of economic and social development among its people. Access to land, poverty, unemployment, crime and a growing prevalence of HIV / AIDS are some of the social and economic factors that affect businesses operating in this country.
The Restitution of Land Rights Act (Act 22 of 1994), as amended, provides for the restoration of rights in land or other equitable redress to persons or communities dispossessed of their land rights after June 19, 1913 as a result of old laws or practices discriminating on the basis of race. The legislation empowers the Minister of Land Affairs to expropriate land in order to restore it to a successful claimant provided that there is just and equitable compensation to the owner of the land. Claims under the Act were required to be filed on or
before December 31, 1998 and are presently being processed by the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights and adjudicated upon by the Land Court. This process is expected to continue for many years. As one of the largest land owners in South Africa, we anticipate that a substantial number of claims may affect land we own. The process of determining the extent of claims filed in respect of our land and the potential impact of these claims on our South African operations continues. The total number of land claims against us is 64, of which 27 are in Mpumalanga and 37 are in KwaZulu-Natal. Four of these claims are in the process of being settled in KwaZulu-Natal. The remaining claims have not been finalized and are still under investigation by the Regional Land Claims Commissioner.
The southern African region has one of the highest infection rates of HIV / AIDS in the world. In 1992, we started a program to address the effects of HIV / AIDS and its impact on our employees and our business. Our aim is to ensure that our program prevents new infections and to treat the HIV / AIDS positive employees. Each operating unit has an elected HIV / AIDS committee and a workplace HIV / AIDS prevention program which are adapted to suit the needs of each particular business unit and to ensure that they are active owners and managers of their programs. Each Sappi operation in southern Africa has also identified the relevant role players in their geographical area and is working with them on the implementation of a comprehensive HIV / AIDS program, eliminating duplication and making optimum use of relevant resources through private-public partnerships. To ensure that our program remains current, we are members of the Global Business Coalition on HIV / AIDS (GBC) and of the South African Business Coalition against HIV / AIDS (SABCOHA). The GBC is a global partnership and SABCOHA is a national partnership focused on developing an integrated strategy for dealing with HIV / AIDS.
Following two previous anonymous, voluntary prevalence tests, a third comprehensive voluntary study was initiated in 2007 in all of our southern African operations. Based on a participation rate of greater than 80%, at the locations tested, we estimate that the overall infection rate in our southern African operations is approximately 14%, which is well below the national average. Similar studies conducted in 2008 confirmed an infection rate of approximately 14%.
Our HIV / AIDS response strategy places special emphasis on testing and counseling to ensure that staff is informed with regard to their HIV / AIDS status to enable them to make informed decisions as to their life choices. Since August 2002, our medical care for employees has included treatment to prevent mother to child transmission. Anti-retroviral treatment has been offered to HIV-infected permanent employees from the beginning of 2003. More recently, special focus has been given to the identification of the environmental risks that could lead to an increase in the prevalence of HIV in the company. We have also extended our voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) programs, and are offering an HIV test to every employee who visits the clinics for a medical examination. We estimate that approximately 50% of our employees that are HIV / AIDS positive participate in our HIV / AIDS management program, which is an improvement on the prior year's participation rate.
The government and organized business have taken a number of steps in recent years to increase the participation of Black people in the South African economy. To this end, the Employment Equity Act (No. 55 of 1998), the Skills Development Act (No. 97 of 1998) and the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (No. 5 of 2000) were promulgated. The Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act (No. 53 of 2003) has formalized the country's approach to distributing skills, employment and wealth more equitably between races and genders. Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) focuses on increasing equity in ownership, management and control of businesses, and improving Black representation in all levels of employment. It also promotes the development of skills within a business, the nurturing of Black entrepreneurship through preferential procurement and enterprise development, and the uplifting of communities through social investment.
More recently, our South African businesses have actively participated in the drafting of a transformation charter for the South African forestry industry. This charter sets the objectives and principles for BBBEE, and includes the scorecard and targets to be applied within the industry, as well as certain undertakings by government and private sector (or South African Forestry Companies) to assist the forestry industry to achieve its BBBEE targets. This Forestry Charter has been signed in May 2008 but has not been gazetted (although the draft forestry sector code was issued for public comment within a period of 60 days under section 9(5) of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act on December 5, 2008). Until such time as it is formally gazetted as a Transformation Charter and Sector Code in terms of sections 10 and 12 of the Broad-Based
Black Economic Empowerment Act (No. 53 of 2003), the South African business will continue to be evaluated against the generic BBBEE scorecard, based on guidelines set out in the Codes of Good Practice published by the Department of Trade and Industry.
In 2006, we achieved an overall BBBEE rating of BBB as verified by Empowerdex, a leading external BBBEE rating agent. In February 2007, the BBBEE scorecard as set out in the Codes of Good Practice published by the Department of Trade and Industry was streamlined and simplified without affecting their intended objectives. The South African businesses' BBBEE scorecard was evaluated in December 2007. Based on this revised generic BBBEE scorecard, we achieved an overall BBBEE status of a "level seven contributor" (B rating) with preferential procurement recognition level of 50%. As a result, 50% of the value of all purchases from our South African businesses qualify as preferential procurement spend in a customer's BBBEE scorecard. New BBBEE targets have been set for 2010 and 2013. In addition to the generic scorecard, the Forestry Charter will set out further qualifying criteria for companies associated with the forestry industry.
We will consider and are pursuing empowerment transactions where our empowerment partners add to the value of our business and meet our empowerment criteria.
The representation of Black people, particularly Black women, in management and all levels of employment within the company is a focus within the organization, driven by employment equity targets set in each occupational category. Skills development initiatives, particularly programs aimed at improving management and leadership skills, are geared to meet these targets. Where practical, we purchase goods and services from Black-owned businesses and seek opportunities to develop future Black vendors. We are committed to the support of our Project Grow, which is an initiative with local communities using their land for plantations while training them in the core principles of forestry management. This is achieved through financial and technical input, as well as by providing a secure market during the start-up phase of these small tree farming enterprises. This initiative has been extended to encourage aspirant tree farmers who wish to undertake forestry activities on a larger scale. We have a number of enterprise development initiatives and have established programs to train new entrepreneurs. These initiatives involve the transfer of business skills, technical assistance, financial support and preferential payment terms to assist new enterprises to enter the market. We have a history of investment in the communities in which we operate. Initiatives to promote education, health and welfare, arts and culture, and rural and community development, amongst others, are regularly undertaken.
The South African constitution guarantees ownership rights of assets, and it is the stated intent of the constitution that transfer of ownership will occur at market prices. It should be noted that BBBEE equity participation need not necessarily occur at the corporate level, and can be effected at divisional, business unit or lower levels. Because the BBBEE Act sets forth a framework for plans rather than specific requirements or goals, it is not possible to predict whether or how our business or assets may be impacted.
For further information, see "Item 4Information on the CompanyHistory and Development of the Company" and "Item 3Key InformationRisk FactorsRisks Related to Our IndustryThe cost of complying with environmental regulation may be significant to our business".
We operate in an industry subject to extensive environmental regulations. Typically, we do not separately account for environmental operating expenses but do not anticipate any material expenditures related to such matters. We do separately account for environmental capital expenditures. See note 33 to our Group Annual Financial Statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report for a discussion of these matters.
For further information, see "Item 4Information on the CompanyEnvironmental and Safety Matters".
The operations of Sappi (The Group) are organized into two main business segments and Corporate:
The analysis and discussion which follows should be read in conjunction with our Annual Financial Statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report.
This is an overview of the Group's operating which is intended to provide context to the discussion and analysis which follow. General trends are being highlighted with detailed discussion and analysis to be dealt with in separate sections below. The key indicators of the group's operating performance are:
The factors impacting operating profit, which will be dealt with in greater detail later in this discussion, are as follows:
Segment contributions to operating profit are as follows:
Operating profit in fiscal 2008 has been adversely affected by impairment charges (US$119 million) and restructuring charges (US$ 41 million), partly offset by a favorable plantation fair value price adjustment (US$ 120 million). The impairment and restructuring charges relate to closure of the Sappi Fine Paper Europe Blackburn mill and Maastricht PM5, as well as the impairment of the Usutu mill in southern Africa. Excluding the impact of these items operating profit showed a significant improvement year on year. The improvement came from improved sales (US$ 559 million), partly offset by increased operating costs excluding impairments and restructuring (US$ 501 million).
Operating profit in fiscal 2007 was favorably impacted by the significantly improved performances in all segments of the business. The major contributor to the improved performance was the improvement in sales, partly offset by some cost escalations. Variable costs have been adversely impacted by escalating commodity prices, particularly, energy and the impact of the exchange rate on the translation into US$. Fiscal 2007 was also impacted by the profit on sale of the Nash property (US$ 26 million).
Fiscal 2006 was favorably affected by the reversal of impairment (US$ 31 million) at Forest Products and post employment restructuring credits (US$ 28 million), partly offset by a provision for restructuring (US$ 40 million) at Sappi Fine Paper Europe relating to the restructuring of post-employment benefit funds.
Movements in the sales, variable cost and fixed cost components of operating profit are explained below. Items not dealt with in separate sections are as follows:
Plantation fair value: This relates to the fair value adjustment of the timber assets of the Forestry operation of Forest Products. The movement on this item is mainly impacted by timber selling prices, cost associated with standing timber values and harvesting and delivery, the estimated growth rate or annual volume changes and discount rates applied. The parameters applied are all market related. The impact was positive US$ 120 million in fiscal 2008, positive US$ 54 million in fiscal 2007 and positive US $ 34 million in fiscal 2006.
Impairment: In fiscal 2008 operating profit has been adversely impacted by the restructuring of the Sappi Fine Paper Europe operations with the closure of Blackburn mill (US$62 million) and Maastricht PM5 (US$16 million), and impairment of the Forest Products Usutu mill (US$37 million). In total, the impairment charges were US$ 119 million and restructuring charges were US$ 41 million. During fiscal 2006, Forest Products, due to the improved performance of the Usutu mill, reversed the impairment of the mill resulting in a credit to profit of US$ 40 million.
Sale of Nash: The Sappi Fine Paper Europe Nash mill was closed in May 2006 and the operations were transferred to other operations in the Group. The mill property was sold during fiscal 2007, and a profit of US$ 26 million was realized.
Fire and flood damage: During fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2007 Forest Products experienced devastating fires across a wide area of afforested land and some flooding at the Saiccor mill. The cost of damages was US$ 11 million and US$ 17 million in fiscal 2008 and in fiscal 2007, respectively.
Sales improvement has been a major contributor to the improved profitability from fiscal 2006 to 2008. Sales have increased from US$ 4,941 million in fiscal 2006 to US$ 5,304 million in fiscal 2007 and US$ 5,863 million in fiscal 2008. The three factors impacting sales are volume, price and exchange rate. The South African and European businesses transact in ZAR and Euro respectively, but the results of their operations are translated into US$ for reporting purposes. The movement in the exchange rate from local currency to US$ during periods of high volatility significantly impacts reported results from one period to the next. Movements in exchange rates impacted sales positively by US$ 259 million and US$ 61 million in fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2007, respectively. An analysis of the drivers of sales movements may be presented as follows:
After market share declines in fiscal 2006 Sappi Fine Paper Europe and Sappi Fine Paper North America experienced volume increases as market conditions improved slightly and market share was regained in fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2008. Forest Products experienced declines in pulp and paper volumes in fiscal 2006 resulting from import substitution on the back of a much stronger local currency. In fiscal 2007, import substitution was less evident as the local currency had weakened against the US$, making import substitution less attractive. Sappi Fine Paper South Africa experienced local market dynamics similar to Forest Products with import substitution being a major threat. Production output difficulties at Kraft and the Saiccor expansion impacted Forest Products sales volumes adversely in fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2008. The 2007 decline in external timber sales volumes reflects efforts to reduce these sales in order to protect timber stocks in anticipation of the increased internal demand that will occur when the Saiccor upgrade is at full capacity.
In fiscal 2008 sales in US$ increased (US$ 559 million) mainly due to price increases (US$ 258 million) at Sappi Fine Paper North America and in South Africa and the impact of the exchange rate movements on the translation (US$ 259 million) of the Sappi Fine Paper Europe sales into US$, partly offset by the impact of the declining ZAR against the US$ on the translation of the South African sales into US$. Forest Products sales benefited from the increased international pulp price. The positive volume growth (US$ 42 million) in Europe and North America was partly offset by volume declines in South Africa for the reasons explained above. In fiscal 2007, sales increased by US$ 363 million compared to fiscal 2006. This increase was due to a combination of increases in volume (US$ 123 million), at Fine Paper and Forest Products pulp and paper, price (US$ 179 million) and the currency translation (US$ 61 million) effect of sales in Euro and ZAR into US$, which is the presentation currency. The translation of the South African sales was adversely affected by the weakening of the ZAR against the US$ and the Euro sales of Sappi Fine Paper Europe were positively impacted by the weakening of the US$ against the Euro. The table below shows the impact of volume, price and exchange rates on the Group's sales in fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2007 when compared to the previous year:
Improving market conditions, particularly the reduced threat of imports from Asia, have allowed Sappi Fine Paper North America to improve its market share thereby increasing volumes and achieving price increases in fiscal 2008. The average price realized in fiscal 2008 increased to US$ 1,071 / tonne after decreasing to US$ 1,003 per tonne in fiscal 2007 from US$ 1,009 per tonne in fiscal 2006 due to continued market pricing pressure. The major contributor to improved sales is volume resulting from market share gain in fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2007. Volumes in fiscal 2006 were adversely affected by declines in market share due to increased competition and import substitution. There is no exchange rate impact as the transactional currency is the same as the presentation currency (US$).
In fiscal 2008, Sappi Fine Paper Europe experienced improved volumes (US$ 51 million) as it continued to regain market share which, together with the impact of the strengthening of the Euro against the US$ (US$ 312 million) on the translation of sales into US$, partly offset by a reduction in prices (US$ 30 million), resulting in increased sales of US$ 333 million. Average prices realized in US$ terms in fiscal 2008 were US$ 1,068 per tonne compared to US$ 957 per tonne in fiscal 2007, and US$ 896 per tonne in fiscal 2006. Pricing at Sappi Fine Paper Europe has been under pressure since fiscal 2005 due to strong competition for market share largely due to the weakening of the US$ against the Euro and overcapacity in the market. The US$ on average weakened to US$ 1.51 / Euro in fiscal 2008 from US$ 1.33 / Euro in fiscal 2007 and US$ 1.23 / Euro in fiscal 2006. Volumes declined in fiscal 2006 due to loss of market share resulting from attempts to improve pricing. Recently announced industry consolidation initiatives in Europe, as was the case for similar initiatives implemented in North America, may contribute to addressing the capacity imbalances which are adversely impacting the sustainability of the industry.
Sales increased 6% in fiscal 2008, as compared to a 10% increase in fiscal 2007, due mainly to price increases (US$ 47 million), which were partly offset by a decrease in volumes (US$ 11 million) and an adverse exchange rate impact (US$ 14 million). The average price realized at Sappi Fine Paper South Africa in US$ terms in fiscal 2008 increased to US$ 1,121 / tonne from US$ 1,023 per tonne in fiscal 2007, as compared to US$ 991 per tonne in fiscal 2006. In fiscal 2008 the average price in ZAR increased 13% compared to fiscal 2007. During 2006 the region experienced pricing pressure due to import substitution as a result of the strength of the ZAR against the US$. In 2007 the ZAR weakened, lessening the threat of import substitution and creating a favorable climate for price increases. The ZAR weakened to an average of ZAR 7.43 / US$ in fiscal 2008 from ZAR 7.17 / US$ in fiscal 2007 and ZAR 6.60 / US$ in fiscal 2006. The region experienced an adverse impact on the translation of its results into the presentation currency (US$) due to the impact of the exchange rate movements. Volumes declined by 3% in fiscal 2008.
Timber volumes at Forest Products declined as the business was reducing external sales in order to conserve and build timber supply inventories in anticipation of the completion of the Saiccor upgrade. A major determinant of pricing in the Forest Products businesses is the NBSK price. The NBSK prices of US$ 863 per tonne and US$ 858 per tonne at the close of fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2007, respectively, were at historical highs which had a positive effect on sales pricing. NBSK prices have declined from US$ 858 per metric tonne at the end of our 2008 fiscal year to US$ 615 per metric tonne in January 2009. This decline had a negative effect on sales pricing. Hardwood Pulp sales which form a major portion of Kraft sales, are also experiencing favorable pricing, reaching US$ 817 per tonne and US$ 720 per tonne at the end of fiscal 2008 and 2007 respectively. The local sales are also benefiting from the weaker ZAR to the US$ which is reducing import substitution and improving both local pricing and volumes. The commercial benefit achieved as a result of the relatively weaker ZAR was slightly offset by an adverse impact on the translation of its financial results into the presentation currency (US$) due to the impact of exchange rate movements.
In the analysis which follows cost per tonne has been based on sales tonnes. An analysis of the Group operating expenses is as follows:
See "Overview" for the line items plantation fair value pricing adjustment, impairment, restructuring, profit on sale of the Nash mill and fire and flood damage. Variable and fixed costs are analyzed in more detail below.
The table below sets out the major components of the Group's variable manufacturing costs.
Variable manufacturing costs relate to costs of inputs which vary directly with output. Other costs relate to inputs such as water, fillers, bought-in pulp (other than fully bleached hardwood and softwood) and consumables. The Group's variable costs are impacted by sales volume, exchange rate impacts on translation of European and South African businesses into US$, and the underlying costs of inputs. In the analysis and discussion of variable costs, usage reflects the changes in cost attributable to volume changes and usage, price refers to changes in input costs and exchange rate relates to the impact of the movement in exchange rate on the translation from local currency to US$ for reporting purposes at Fine Paper Europe and South Africa. The major contributors to variable cost increases at a Group level have been the impact of the exchange rate on translation of the European and South African operations into the US$ presentation currency and actual input cost escalations. See"Principal Factors Impacting on the Group ResultsCurrency Fluctuations" for a discussion of exchange rate movements. Cost increases are being driven by international commodity price increases.
An analysis of variable cost developments by region is as follows:
Costs have increased in fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2007 due to increases in international commodity prices, in particular crude oil. Cost management has been a major focus area, and the region has been engaged in a number of cost reduction initiatives aimed at offsetting the impact of increases in input costs. These initiatives are aimed at improved procurement strategies and product reengineering initiatives to reduce raw material input costs through substitution. Product design and raw material inputs are constantly reviewed to ensure product attributes and quality meet market specifications. Lower timber costs favorably impacted fiscal 2007 compared to fiscal 2006.
Sappi Fine Paper Europe continued to experience cost pressure due to increases in international commodity prices during fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2007. Wood costs are being driven by specific supply and demand issues as well as increased demand for alternative renewable fuels in Europe. International crude oil prices are driving energy costs. During the period under review the region has undertaken specific cost reduction projects which have contributed to cost reductions through process as well as product re-engineering initiatives. Rising international pulp prices have led to increases in cost of non-integrated pulp. The region has been protected to some extent, on the cost side, by the relative strength of the Euro against the US$ for US$ based inputs, such as pulp and certain chemicals. However, when reported in US$, costs increase due to the impact of the US$ weakening relative to the Euro on the translation into the US$ presentation currency, although this effect may be partly offset by the positive impact of translation on the revenue line.
In ZAR the region's costs have increased 17% in fiscal 2008 as compared to fiscal 2007. This increase is largely attributable to the impact of the weakening of the ZAR against the US$ on US$ based inputs. The major contributors have been energy, bought-in pulp and chemical input costs, all of which are being driven by international commodity price pressures and the impact of the exchange rate movements.
The cost of non-integrated timber increased due to the increased demand from both major local paper producers and exporters. The pool of non-integrated timber in South Africa is relatively small and currently very costly due to the increasing demand. Movements in pulp costs do not impact the business as significantly as Europe and North America as the region only purchases pulp in a